The Big Pool
Garden City, KS 67846
Grand re-opening: May 27, 2017
Daily admission fee: $2 per person
Established in the 1920s, Garden City's municipal swimming pool, known as the "Big Pool," is larger than a football field with a surface area of 72,600 square feet. The pool holds more than 2 million gallons of water.
The Big Pool was hand dug and concrete poured by the people of Garden City in 1921. It opened for its inaugural season in 1922. The bath house was a WPA project constructed during the 1930s. A children's wading pool was also added in the 1930s.
In the 1980s two Garden City youth became the first to ski atop the pool as a promotional stunt.The idea was to promote Finnup Park, Lee Richardson Zoo, and the world's largest outdoor free concrete municipal swimming pool.
For several years, the zoo's elephants, Moki and Chana, had the opportunity to swim in the municipal pool after it closed for the season. Crowds reportedly came from as far as California and numbered in the thousands daily for the week that the elephants swam.
By the late 1990s, the pool was badly in need of a facelift. After gathering input from a community pool committee, the City Commission prepared a master plan. Because of the $8 million dollar price tag, the project was broken down into smaller pieces. In 2003, the Garden City Recreation Commission took over the management of the Big Pool and instituted the pool's first user fees. As the first eager swimmers hit the water of the Big Pool in 2006, they inaugurated the most significant improvements to the Garden City landmark in its 84-year legacy. It had undergone its third and most visible face lift during the late winter and early spring of 2006. Five slides were incorporated with a plunge pool and a bulkhead that divides the pool into north and south halves.
In 2017, the City of Garden City resumed operations of the Big Pool. Renovations are currently underway to the bathhouse, slides, and surface of the pool.