Joseph H. Lyons Pool
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This property was originally known as Tompkinsville Playground in tribute to the surrounding community and its founder, the remarkable Daniel D. Tompkins (1774-1825). Tompkins' career included terms as Supreme Court Justice of New York, New York State Governor, and Vice President of the United States. During the War of 1812, he bought arms from private citizens and formed a 40,000-man militia for the defense of New York. In 1815 Tompkins founded Tompkinsville, and he established the first steamboat ferry linking Staten Island and Manhattan two years later.
In 1934 the Department of Docks gave the Department of Parks a permit to use this site as a park. In 1935 the Board of Aldermen renamed the property in memory of World War I veteran Joseph H. Lyons (1874-1934). Lyons joined the New York City Club Unit of the American Ambulance Field Service in 1917. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government for his service driving on the French and Belgian fronts. Upon his return from Europe in 1920, he organized the Staten Island Post No. 563, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), of which he was the first commander. As a result of his activity in the VFW he became county commander of the American Legion. Richmond Turnpike, Victory Boulevard, and the American Legion ferryboat were all named at the suggestion of Lyons.
Joseph H. Lyons Pool, the largest public pool on Staten Island, was built in 1936. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Lyons Pool was one of eleven pools that opened throughout New York City in a single summer during the Great Depression. The pools were among the most remarkable public recreational facilities in the country and represented the forefront of design and technology. The main pool measures 165 feet long and 100 feet wide, while both the wading and diving pools are 100 feet by 68 feet. The pool is designed to accommodate 2,800 bathers at a time; during the first summer, crowds averaged 5,707 people each day. The influence of the WPA pools extended throughout entire communities, attracting aspiring athletes and neighborhood children, and changing the way millions of New Yorkers spent their leisure time.
From 1984 to 1986, Lyons Pool underwent a $6.7 million restoration, which included reconstruction of the three pools and locker room facilities, and installation of new plumbing, filtration, and electrical systems. Lyons Pool is a symbol of Robert Moses' influence in park design.
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