The “Great Bath” at the site of Mohenjo-Daro in modern-day Pakistan was most likely the first swimming pool, dug during the 3rd millennium BC. This pool is 12 by 7 meters (39 by 23 feet), is lined with bricks and was covered with a tar-based sealant.
Ancient Greeks and Romans built artificial pools for athletic training in the palaestras, for nautical games and for military exercises. Roman emperors had private swimming pools in which fish were also kept, hence one of the Latin words for a pool, piscina. The first heated swimming pool was built by Gaius Maecenas of Rome in the first century BC. Gaius Maecenas was a rich Roman lord and considered one of the first patrons of arts.
The modern Olympic Games started in 1896 and included swimming races, after which the popularity of swimming pools began to spread. In the USA, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia Clubhouse (1907) boasts one of the world’s first modern above-ground swimming pools. The first swimming pool to go to sea on an ocean liner was installed on the White Star Line‘s Adriatic in 1907. The oldest known public swimming pool in America, Underwood Pool, is located in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Interest in the sport of competitive swimming grew following World War I. Standards improved and training became essential. Home swimming pools became popular in the United States after World War II and the publicity given to swimming sports by Hollywood films like Esther Williams‘ “Million Dollar Mermaid” made a home pool a desirable status symbol.
More than fifty years later, the residential swimming pool is a common sight. Some small nations enjoy a thriving swimming pool industry (in New Zealand, where the population is 4,116,900, the country holds the record in pools per capita with 65,000 home swimming pools and 125,000 spa pools).
Curbed LA recently ranked the best and worst pools in Los Angeles, discovering that both public and private pools have their own distinct advantages. The Annenberg Beach House ranked among the top new seasonal gym at the Annenberg Community Beach House. The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that Wallis Annenberg, a woman known for her philanthropic and community giving provided a generous donation to the city of Santa Monica so they can set up a summer gym on the Beach House’s second floor, in addition to the $27.5 million she paid to make the beach house happen in the first place.
As the paper reported, “After visiting regularly last summer, Annenberg decided a gym was exactly what the new community center needed.”
In addition, several hotels including the Viceroy in Santa Monica, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Mondrian in West Hollywood are known for their public pools. The pools at these Los Angeles landmarks have been replicated by the area’s top designers and developers, including infinity pools at homes like 1717 Sunset Plaza, currently offered by Alphonso Lascano and Bjorn Farrugia. Similarly, Branden and Rayni Williams’ listing at 864 Stradella Road is meticulously crafted to showcase the myriad unique features that comprise the Paul McClean-designed home, including an infinity pool overlooking the Hollywood Hills below.