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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

STAYCATIONS: A reluctant guide to enjoying being broke again, PART TWO - The Red Hook Pool

The NY Times (T mag blogs) recently ran a story I did about staycations (and my summer) in New York City. They, painstakingly, edited down from over 100 photos, to one per location. In actuality, I had envisioned it as a photo essay, so here is my version of the story.

-A reluctant guide to enjoying being broke again-

by iO Tillett Wright

It’s been more than a decade since I’ve spent an entire summer, straight through, in New York City. It’s a brutal prospect, what with the steaming pavements and bone-wilting humidity, but if it has to be done, it should be done right. So this summer, armed with my girlfriend and my Metrocard, I set out to design the perfect balance of work, play and sunshine. Herewith I give you my staycation story, a real New Yorker’s guide to not losing your mind between May Day and Labor Day weekend.


The Red Hook pool has become my personal oasis. I’m not one to be bothered by the curiosity that are real Brooklynites, and some terrorizing children — the water is clean, and the pool so vast that you can always find a corner to float alone in. However, don’t arrive expecting anything less than tons of locals on their own daycations. 

The pool is watched over by a fleet of lifeguards, all of whom looked like buff high school students on summer break.

We tested their boundaries by play wrestling and were swiftly wrist slapped by a hail of shrill whistle blasts and informed, over a loudspeaker no less, that there is “no person-to-person contact, man to woman, woman to woman, or man to man.”

The Red Hook Recreational Area, as the park surrounding the pool is known, is just a short walk from the Carroll stop on the F line.

(Note: Do not follow the advice of Google maps and try to get to the Smith and 9th Street stop, it is semi-permanently closed.) 

A lock is a must — and fortunately can be procured one at the 99 cent stores on nearby Lorraine Street, between Columbia and Hicks. Bring a towel, and some flip-flops to wade through the shower area before you get outside, as the bathrooms are an unfortunate sight. Dotting Bay street on the way into the pool, you will find several Latin food trucks serving homemade tacos, tamales, empanadas, fresh fruit juices, and shakes. 

I recommend the Vaqueros truck, on the corner of Clinton and Bay, with its mind-bending hibiscus tea, perfect for a pre- and post-swim refresher.