A Safe, Leisurely Swim in NYC’s East River

Andrew Lampard
This Could Be Big

It was on a typical New York City summer day -- sweltering and humid -- that Dong-Ping Wong first wanted to jump into the East River, the heavily trafficked waterway separating Manhattan Island from the Queens and Brooklyn boroughs.

Most New Yorkers -- apart from a few diehards -- refuse to test those murky waters because of the prevailing stigma that the East River is unsanitary.

But what if you could swim in the river worry-free? That was Wong’s nagging wish. With views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Financial District, and far-off Lady Liberty, an East River dip would make for one memorable swim.

Wong teamed up with two designers, Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeffrey Franklin, and the trio hatched + Pool: a $15 million Olympic-sized swimming pool for the East River they hope to open in 2016.

Like the city’s High Line, a popular park built on top of an elevated freight line, the + Pool seeks to restore an urban area for wide public enjoyment and engagement. To make it safe for swimmers, Franklin says the pool will have a filtration system that filters any bacteria from East River waters.

“It will filter something like 500,000 gallons of water a day,” Coates said. The team estimates that that would be enough clean water to accommodate 380,000 swimmers.

We caught up with + Pool guys, who recently made Time Magazine’s list of 25 Best Inventions of 2013 with this project, in their Lower Manhattan headquarters. Watch the video above to see they intend to turn the East River into New York City’s oasis.