BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bishop Douglass recalls being a lifeguard at Baltimore’s segregated swimming pool in the 1950s.
Pool No. 2, as it was known, served over 100,000 Black residents in Baltimore during segregation, according to the city.“When the temperature got around 90, I would always call the pool the Ganges River during Holy Week,” Douglass joked. “The pool catered to the entire city of Baltimore.” The pool was in the northeastern section of Druid Hill Park. It closed in 1955. Now, it’s filled in with dirt and grass as a public art display and relic of America’s segregated past. “In my (military) uniform, I couldn’t go to the movies. I couldn’t buy sandwiches and things from the store. This was 1956,” Edward Clapp, 89, said. “This pool was the only place we had to swim.” The pool was 100 by 105 feet. It was so popular that people needed to be admitted in shifts. It was just half the size of the whites-only Pool No. 1. “They knew they’d always find their friends and whatnot at the pool!” Douglass said. “They didn’t believe a pool existed here. They thought there was only one pool in Druid Hill Park. No, no, no. Two pools. Number 1 and Number 2.” The pool site remains open to the public off Shop Road, next to the tennis courts, also once segregated to Baltimore’s black residents.