Jump to content
jwphillips2

Gateway Swimming Pool on Main

Recommended Posts

I remember the Tropicana sitting somewhere in between the Santa Rosa Theater (east side of road) and Bellfort. But it was located on the west side of the road, before Brays Bayou. I never went there.

I think the Tropicana pool was at 6000 Telephone. Where the current low-income (or elderly?) low-rise apartment building is located.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember going to the bottom of the Crystal Pool and entering the air dome made by a B17 plastic canopy. The canopy was chained to the bottom of the pool and air was pumped in from the bottom. The canopy trapped the air and floated about 3 feet off the bottom. I know Liability Lawyers would be break dancing to get a shot at that now!

Anyway, my question is "What is the name of the skating rink that was right next door on S. Main? ".

There were a couple of pools that had those underwater domes in that time period as I recall...may be mistaken. I only remember Gateway, but as I remember, Hotwells, out on the West side of town was another that had a big one. Loooong time ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gateway pool opened in 1959 I was 10 at the time they had this huge grand opening and my parents bought me a season pass. Our house backed up close to it. I would ride my bike threw the vacant lot next to our house and it was just on the other side of Alamo Motel. I was brown as a beet for the next 2 summers. Our house backed up to Grace Courts which had been torn down years before our neighborhood was built and it was just a big vacant lot with big trees like an orchard, I went by there in 2000 and the sign for Grace Courts was still there. Fact it's still a vacant lot now you can see it on Google Earth.

The "bubble" was fed air from a big red hose that they dropped down in the deep end that was hooked up to a big air compressor that was housed in the store room that was behind the diving boards in the deep end. When they had swim meets there they would lay down a walkway that went half way across the pool that separated the shallow end and the deep end making it an Olympic size pool. I went to several diving competitions there too. I remember going down the big slide head 1st with my arms stretched out in front and gliding over half way across the pool.

The Shamrock pool was only an Olympic sized pool Gateway was a bigger pool. When they 1st opened they advertised Gateway to be the largest pool in Houston.

I went to grade school and 7th grade with the guys son that owned/built it and he was in our car pool. They also owned a Go-Cart track that was just the other side of Main St. @ OST. behind a Spanish Village restaurant. By the time they opened the go-cart track I was 12 and was more interested in go-carting than swimming. I used to work after school and Saturdays at the track helping get the other kids into the carts and pushing them off, that's how the carts were set up you pushed them to start running. They didn't pay me money they paid me in cart time. I also helped in the cart shop fetching tools. I guess that's where I got the bug to drive fast which I still do.

I wish the pics of the pool that were posted early in this thread were viewable. Could someone repost it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What street would the Grace Courts have been on? I would like to look it up on Google Earth. And what structure is sitting about where the Gateway Pool was located?

My mom remembers it, was before my time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gateway was right about where the Target on S Main is now (the pool is pretty easy to spot in the old aerials) - Grace Courts was at 8900 Main which is the empty lot next to the car wash.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=205937566729555760537.00049d63df2f256a71c77&ll=29.681803,-95.442164&spn=0.107379,0.222988&t=h&z=13

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gateway was right about where the Target on S Main is now (the pool is pretty easy to spot in the old aerials) - Grace Courts was at 8900 Main which is the empty lot next to the car wash.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=205937566729555760537.00049d63df2f256a71c77&ll=29.681803,-95.442164&spn=0.107379,0.222988&t=h&z=13

The vacant lot to the left of Target and behind the storage place was where Gateway Swim was. The bunch of rectangle slabs to the left of the storage place was the old Alamo Motel. The house that's behind where Grace Courts was with the white roof and swimming pool wasn't built till 1976/77. It was a vacant lot when I lived in the house to the left of it when I were I grew up. Where Parkview Inn & suites is now used to be the Chief Motel, I and all my playmates used to clime threw our back fence and sneak into their swimming pool all the time.

Where Target is now used to be a 78 lane bowling alley. I think it was called Astro Lanes. They had like a 36 table pool hall in it, I played lot's of pool in that joint.

Edited by blue92

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^Yeah, Stadium Bowl was there, inset quite a bit.

btw that google map you posted has the South Main Drive-in in the wrong location. The drive-in was in the location where Trans World Services is now. The drive-in was boarded by Stella Link on one side and the railroad tracks on the other side. B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was noticing that the shape of the Gateway pool (I call it harp-shaped) was similar in shape to the Shamrock pool. I was trying to visually decide which one was bigger, was just looking at theold aerials, but read that blue92 said Gateway was much bigger. Must have been gigantic, since I know Shamrock's had ski boats in it.

BTW, I did believe you, blue92, but measured to see difference, just how much bigger, roughly (from aerial map ruler) Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point), Shamrock pool 154' l by 94' w.

Unique shapes.

Has anyone mentioned how deep both pools were? Know that Shamrock's had to be pretty deep, it had those diving towers.

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Shamrock pool was definitely deeper. I even took SCUBA lessons there as a kid. And those diving towers were huge. At least they seemed that way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Shamrock pool was definitely deeper. I even took SCUBA lessons there as a kid. And those diving towers were huge. At least they seemed that way.

Gateway was 15ft. deep don't know how deep Shamrock was. I went over the 1964 aerials Gateway was longer than Shamrock but Shamrock was wider in the shallow end.

Here's a pic I capped off the net that shows Gateway and the go-cart track that the owners of Gateway also owned. You can also see Stadium Bowl where the Target is now.

post-10253-0-36329100-1315455237_thumb.p

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting, in an earlier post, the pool at Gateway is called the Crystal pool. Wait a minute, is that right? I just re-read the earlier posts, which one was the Crystal? I'm confused...:wacko:

Edited by NenaE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was noticing that the shape of the Gateway pool (I call it harp-shaped) was similar in shape to the Shamrock pool. I was trying to visually decide which one was bigger, was just looking at theold aerials, but read that blue92 said Gateway was much bigger. Must have been gigantic, since I know Shamrock's had ski boats in it.

BTW, I did believe you, blue92, but measured to see difference, just how much bigger, roughly (from aerial map ruler) Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point), Shamrock pool 154' l by 94' w.Unique shapes.

Has anyone mentioned how deep both pools were? Know that Shamrock's had to be pretty deep, it had those diving towers.

This description of the Shamrock pool from Wikipedia:

"To the south was the hotel's lavishly landscaped garden designed by Ralph Ellis Gunn, a terrace and an immense swimming pool measuring 165 by 142 feet (50 by 43 m) described as the world's biggest outdoor pool, which accommodated exhibition waterskiing and featured a 3 story-high diving platform with an open spiral staircase."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This description of the Shamrock pool from Wikipedia:

"To the south was the hotel's lavishly landscaped garden designed by Ralph Ellis Gunn, a terrace and an immense swimming pool measuring 165 by 142 feet (50 by 43 m) described as the world's biggest outdoor pool, which accommodated exhibition waterskiing and featured a 3 story-high diving platform with an open spiral staircase."

The Shamrock opened in 1949 Gateway opened in 1958. There would have been no problem with putting a boat in Gateway and watersking in it. At some point they may have. B)

Edited by blue92

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Shamrock opened in 1949 Gateway opened in 1958. There would have been no problem with putting a boat in Gateway and watersking in it. At some point they may have. B)

They actually did that at the Shamrock.

link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They actually did that at the Shamrock.

link

I don't live in Houston anymore if I did I would go down to the Chronicle and try to find more on Gateway Swim. I would bet money they have articles on Gateway's grand opening that would give more details on the pool. The more I think about it I do seem to remember them water skying at Gateway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the pool that was out on Long Point was Crystal Pool.

I just re-read post #1, it was the pool at the Gateway location, the person mentions the Crystal & a dome at the bottom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just re-read post #1, it was the pool at the Gateway location, the person mentions the Crystal & a dome at the bottom.

I want to say the complex (including the pool, the skating rink, and the grounds) was called Gateway and they just called the pool itself the Crystal Pool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The name was Gateway Crystal Pool. Most people just called it Gateway.

I'm absolutely certain it opened before 1958 or 1959. The pool and rink were both already open when my folks moved to the area in 1950. I took my first swimming lessons from Les Oldfield in the early 1950s. The slide and bubble canopy weren't added until about 1955.

I heard Les Oldfield tell my dad that he would shut the pool before he would ever integrate it. I remember him as a nice man, but he was a man of his time in what was a segregated city.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The name was Gateway Crystal Pool. Most people just called it Gateway.

I'm absolutely certain it opened before 1958 or 1959. The pool and rink were both already open when my folks moved to the area in 1950. I took my first swimming lessons from Les Oldfield in the early 1950s. The slide and bubble canopy weren't added until about 1955.

Yea my dad confirmed that to me the other day. I was 10 years old in 1959 so my memories might have be flawed.

I heard Les Oldfield tell my dad that he would shut the pool before he would ever integrate it. I remember him as a nice man, but he was a man of his time in what was a segregated city.

That may be true, but I heard that one of the reasons it closed was the pool had a huge crack threw the deep end of the pool and to repair it would have cost too much money that the owner didn't have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A March 20, 1952 "Southwestern Times" newspaper article reports Ham(ilton) and Margaret Anderson and Les(ter H.) Oldfield building a pool at 8510 S Main in 1952 "behind ... Gateway Skating Rink."  (You can see the pool & skating rink in the 1953 aerial photos to 1995. I am not sure if the concrete is still there.)  All were former AAU swimmers.  I know Les was a national-level backstroker.  Apparently Les was a subject of KPRC's "Eyes of Texas" Oct. 8, 1983.   The Andersons built swim pools and used  the name of "Crystal Pools".  Les used the name "Gateway".   I believe that sometime around the mid 1950s, the Andersons & Les split.  Crystal Club of Houston was an AAU swim team that worked out in the backyard pool (with an underwater window) at the Andersons' house (Bellaire?) after that.  I learned to swim at Gateway 1954-1956. Around 1957, the team used another facility under coach Milton Davis (swimming, diving, trampoline).  Around 1958, Milton left for Nashville(IIRC), being replaced by Don Buell. Somewhere around 1959, the team parted from the Andersons, becoming the Houston Dolphins.  The Dolphins practiced at a number of facilities (Gateway outdoor & indoor pools, Meyerland Pool, Johnston Jr. High).  The Gateway skating rink (a separate building, closer to Main St, but adjacent to the same (HOT tar!) parking lot as Gateway pool) was converted to an indoor pool circa 1963.

 

The pool was 15' deep in the deep end, with two 1 meter and one 3 meter diving boards.  The shallow end was 2.5 feet deep.  Great for teaching kids to swim but really tough to learn to do flip turns in. (Before flip turns, there were spin turns which it was ok for.  But backstroke flips were dangerous.)

 

Besides the "bubble" (a dome from a plane) in the deep end, the pool sported a very tall (20' ?) straight slide on the northeast side, approximately in the middle of the pool (I'd guess it was about 4' deep there.)  The end of the slide can be seen protruding into the pool in the aerial views.  There were two(?) trampolines in the east corner of the pool grounds.  Tether ball was also a favorite.   The AquaBobber (visible opposite the slide in 1964 but not 1962) was a approximately 7' spherical metal float with a approximately 10' crows nest above it. (Sizes from my guessing based on a 50-year old memory.) The float was anchored by chains to the bottom of the pool.  The idea was that it was an upside-down swing.  You used your body weight to swing the bobber back and forth.  As I understood it, originally there was too little (concrete) ballast in the float resulting in very dramatic swings of 180 degrees (water to water) or more.  Extra concrete was added, giving it more momentum, and making it more difficult to achieve as large a range of motion.  One could still get your hand into the water, but getting your body in was very difficult, and would probably get you kicked out.  Jumping or falling out of the crow's nest would definitely result in an ejection.

 

The pool usually opened for the season just before Memorial Day and closed after Labor Day (school ended just after Memorial Day and started around Labor Day).  July 4th was a big day at the pool with kids diving for coins thrown into the shallow end, and watermelon scrambles in the deep end.  I remember a Mother-Son race that my mother & I participated in. (The bulkhead was in, resulting in a 20 or 25yd course for that event.)  I recall the 3 major holidays often sported clown diving, with Les as one of the clown divers.

 

Personally, I think wide spread adoption of air conditioning contributed to the declining patronage of the pool.  Before A/C, going to the pool was a respite from the sweltering heat of Houston in the summer.  I know Les was losing money everyday for the last several years.  Just imagine the water loss due to evaporation, and the amount of chemicals required to keep the pool clean & safe, plus the electricity to circulate the water and pump it through the filters.  Overnight, water hoses snaked out in the pool to help stir up any dirt on the bottom.  Although I must have swum there 2000 days, I rarely remember the pool as being closed or ever being too chlorinated or otherwise dirty.  (I had an early summer birthday & had several adolescent birthday parties there.)

 

Gateway Pool was a grand place for its time.  It was sad to see it go the way of the Hula Hoop.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember swimming here. Mostly I remember the bobber, but I was too small to climb on the thing and make it swing back and forth. I was too young to understand the bubble - it was always explained as a place in the pool where you could breathe underwater( which I knew was crazy). I never tried to investigate, I wasn't a deep water swimmer yet. I never recall seeing the thing either, but I do recall the bobber, and the huge slide. The pool was truly huge, as you can see from the photos. I always wondered what happened to the place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can anyone tell me the width, length, and depth of the the Gateway Swimming Pool? I'm writing a short story about my experience with Gateway and would like to know. Also, can anyone cite their source?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Les said:

Can anyone tell me the width, length, and depth of the the Gateway Swimming Pool? I'm writing a short story about my experience with Gateway and would like to know. Also, can anyone cite their source?

From my who knows how accurate measurements on Google Earth, it looks like it was 150 feet long, 40 feet wide at the deep end, and 110 feet wide at the shallow end.

 

There's actually a Facebook page for the pool https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Gateway-Swim-Skate-137489473122934/

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

In an earlier post 57Tbird said, "Gateway was approximately 217' l by 141' (at widest point)." On the Gateway Swim Facebook page the page said it was 100 yds long by 50 yds wide at shallow end. I wish there was a record somewhere that could verify the actual size. Maybe i should go by what the Gateway Swim FB page said. I think the page was run by Les's daughter Margery and she would know.

Edited by Les
error

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/15/2005 at 11:59 AM, lunchbox said:

I think the place was called "Fame City", and then re-named "Funplex."

 

I think you’re right! ❤️

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...