A few months ago, I was researching Brooklyn’s Hotel St. George for my article on The Godfather’s shooting locations…
…and found myself fascinated by its former indoor pool, now long gone:
Once the largest hotel in the United States and occupying an entire city block of interconnected buildings in Brooklyn Heights, the 30-story Hotel St. George played host to everyone who was anyone, from Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant to Truman and Roosevelt (you can read a very detailed history here).
In particular, the hotel was famous for its 168,000 gallon salt-water Olympic-sized pool, with an enormous mirrored ceiling, a waterfall, mosaics, and art deco accents. As the decades passed, the pool was eventually opened up to outsiders for a fee and became a favorite among locals.
Sadly, by the end of the 1960s, the St. George’s prestige had begun to wane, and the hotel soon fell into disrepair. The pool was drained in 1974 and later removed. Today, a gym occupies the site.
But do remnants of the Hotel St. George’s grand pool still exist? Over the years, several Scouting NY reader have written to say that small details do in fact remain from the legendary pool, and I was finally able to take a look for myself the other day.
Here’s the pool in its heyday…
At first, it seems as though everything is gone. However, look closely and you’ll see that not only is the original mezzanine balcony still in place…
…so too are the original green-tiled columns!
Here’s a color picture of the original pool for comparison:
Though the lower columns have been covered in beige tiling, the original upper portions wrap around the entire level…
…at one point, even disappearing through the wall.
But there’s more to find than just columns. Around the room are a number of the pool’s original mosaics, depicting a variety of scenes.
For example, this waterside vista can be found in the Pilates room…
…stretching behind an added wall into the adjacent workout room:
Behind some running machines, a beach setting:
And on a nearby wall, this cute little red-roofed house:
But as it turns out, there’s one final piece left from the original structure. A partitioning wall divides the room in half, but head through to the other side…
…and you’ll find find that the pool wasn’t completely removed. A small portion still exists, complete with tiling along the edge. The pool is now oriented in the opposite direction, creating a small lap pool:
I happened to go into the room above the gym area, a large space with towering ceilings housing various squash and racquetball courts.
In addition to the large, curved ceiling…
…there’s an unusual motif running along the walls that suggests a pre-gym origin:
You’re going to have to use your imagination to bring this one to life, but it seems this was once the hotel’s Grand “Colorama” Ballroom:
Described as the “room of a million moods,” the ballroom could accommodate up to 3,000 dancing or 2,000 dining. It’s a little hard to figure out exactly where the ballroom would have been oriented…
…but on the opposite wall behind a boxing ring…
…you can find additional details, including a line of zig-zagging boxes:
It continues down the entire length of the wall:
I know a lot of you have fond memories of the Hotel St. George and I’d love to hear them. New York City may never see a pool this grand again, but as always, the ghosts remain.
PS – For some amazing pictures of the Hotel St. George, join the Yahoo group here.
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