‘Ghost Pools’ Georgia artist’s message about the legacy of public pools and segregation

East Point 'ghost pools' battlegrounds over racial integration
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 4:44 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Swimming pools once filled with life, now turned into parking lots or green spaces in Atlanta’s East Point neighborhood.

One artist is diving into the deep end and uncovering the history that made these spaces battlegrounds over integration.

The emptiness is the point. The painted concrete. The lone diving board.

“The City of East Point built two public pools, filled them both in the eighties because they were largely defunded,” said writer, urban designer, and historian Hannah Palmer.

They’re known as Ghost Pools; memorials of two public pools in East Point. Historians say the spaces became battlegrounds over racial integration.

“There are lost swimming pools all over the place. Once you start looking you see that this is a phenomenon that happened nationwide,” said Palmer.

The Segregation Era

Although the Spring Avenue Pool was desegregated in 1964, the pool was mostly used by white community members. The Randal Street Pool was built for Black residents.

“For some people, these were happy places but it was a time of exclusion and inequality and you feel it when you see the different sizes of the pools,” said Palmer.

Both pools eventually closed, due to underfunding. Palmer created both public art installations to talk about the legacy of public swimming pools and the lack of a public swimming pool in East Point today.

“I wanted to learn why we lost them and why it is so hard to get them back,” said Palmer, “I wanted to educate the community about that history so we can dream big about the future.”

The public is welcome to visit the Ghost Pools through Labor Day.