Classic indoor swimming pools, bathing pools & plunge baths

“They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.” That’s one expression that could have been coined just to express how awesome — in size, in design, in popularity — old-fashioned indoor swimming pools could be.

A hundred years ago, only the very wealthy had their own “bathing pools,” so pools open to the public in the pre-air-conditioning era were very popular. But it wasn’t just about cooling off. Swimming — especially when it came to the more expansive venues — was a hugely social activity. And, as you can see in these photos, while many people went in the water, many others were content to sit back and watch the action.

Below, take a look at 10 beautiful indoor swimming pools from days gone by!


1. Interior of the Plunge – Ocean Park, California (c1905)

Interior of the Plunge - Ocean Park, California (c1905)


2. Alcazar Hotel’s indoor swimming pool, St Augustine, Florida (c1905)

When this pool was built, it was the largest indoor swimming pool in the world. It has since been turned into a restaurant, and looks much like it does here… minus the water.

Bathing pool in the casino Florida Saint Augustine 1880s


3. Hot Springs, South Dakota — Largest plunge bath in the US as of 1891

An interior view of this huge swimming pool, with bathers and spectators standing beside the pool.

Hot Springs South Dakota - The largest plunge bath house in US - 1891


4. Redondo Beach Bath House, California (c1910)

Redondo Beach Bath House, California (c1910)


5. Swimming pool at The Park Central, New York (1900)

Swimming pool at The Park Central, New York (1900)


6. The New Greenbrier pool, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (1900)

The New Greenbrier, swimming pool, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (1900)


7. Large indoor swimming pool in Charlevoix, Michigan (1900)

The ceiling is reflected in the glass-smooth pool water. On the top level balcony are changing rooms and beach chairs.

Large indoor swimming pool in Charlevoix, Michigan (1900)


8. The Sutro Baths in San Francisco

Here are two of several enormous indoor swimming pools at the Sutro Baths, filled with seawater from the Pacific Ocean. (Check out the balconies full of spectators!)

May Day at the Sutro Baths in San Francisco (1897)

Sutro Baths bathing pools - San Francisco


9. North Beach Bath House Santa Monica (c1900)

North Beach Bath House Santa Monica (c1900)


10. Interior Natatorium in Santa Cruz, California (c1910)

Interior Natatorium in Santa Cruz, California (c1910)


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Filed under: 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, Photos & photography, Places, Sports

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