Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Visiting the Phoenix Swimming Baths in 1885


Let's time-travel back to 1885 Phoenix and go to the Swimming Baths. It's just outside of town, north of Van Buren on the east side of Central, next to the town ditch (the Salt River Valley Canal).

Chlorine? What? I have no idea what that is, it's 1885. But the water is fine - a little salty, but that's how water in the desert gets. The water comes from the Salt River. Fish? Yeah, maybe a few, mostly catfish I'd guess.

Swimming trunks? What? What do you think this is, some kind of fancy swimming pool, or something? I suppose you could keep your union suit on, it might be the first time your underwear has ever been washed. I don't wear underwear, and I sure don't have swimming trunks. Besides, no one's gonna see us. And you're so darned skinny that most people would just think that a dog had dropped an old bone in the water anyway.

1911 article about swimming in the canals, and the request for more modest attire.

OK, there's the schoolhouse, we're almost there. All we have to do now is cross the bridge. And here we are. I told you it was just outside of town, next to the ditch. But dang, it looks like there are already some people there. I don't care, I want to splash around. If they don't like my "swimming suit", they can just leave. No, of course there's no girls - girls wouldn't ever be here.... but waitaminute...

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