Edith Neff, Swimming Pool at Hunting Park

Date
1975-76
Medium
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Gift of Drs. Herbert and Faith Cohen, 2014
Dimensions
53 x 70 in.

Neff portrays a group of children enjoying a summer afternoon at the pool. She based the composition on several photographs she took on site, with the architectural structures and the major figures or clusters of figures derived from different pictures. Neff, who was committed to painting what her camera captured, celebrated the diversity of urban life.

This community swimming pool in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia opened in 1944. Unlike private pools and swim clubs, most of which were strictly segregated, public pools in Philadelphia were officially open to all residents. Nevertheless, segregation was common as a result of individual prejudices, the vague nature of rules, and the changing socioeconomics of city neighborhoods. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 abolished segregation in public places, but nationwide it took years to break down social practices that kept pools segregated. Pools in North Philadelphia, like this one, as well as a few other public and private pools in Mount Airy and West Philadelphia led the way in embracing integration.

 

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