City of Fort Lauderdale Opened the Las Olas Casino Pool 93 Years Ago Today

Casino Pool
Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

This day in history: The City of Fort Lauderdale opened the Las Olas Casino pool in 1928.

Contributed by the Aquatics Director of Hall of Fame Aquatic Center Laura Voet

93 years ago today, on January 29, 1928, the City of Fort Lauderdale dedicated the Las Olas Casino Pool (1928-1967), the first Olympic-sized swimming pool in the State of Florida and consequently launched Fort Lauderdale as a tourist destination. The community would forever be famous for swimming!

casino pool

The Casino Pool. Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

Located directly on the beach at what is now known as D.C. Alexander Park, just south of Las Olas Boulevard, this beautiful Spanish-style facility was engineered by Clifford Root and filled twice a week with salt water directly from the Atlantic Ocean. The Casino Pool was home to the nation’s top swimmers for decades, namely, Katherine Rawls, Fort Lauderdale’s first celebrity of sport and international athletic ambassador. Rawls was the two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 3m springboard in 1932 and 1936.

The facility received its name for replacing the city’s original beach “casino,” a two-story wooden structure which contained dressing rooms and a dance floor, but no pool. It hosted the “college swim forum” beginning in 1935, a Christmastime swim meet with all the vacationing swim teams in the area, and continued all the way until 1965 when the new Hall of Fame was built in its place.

Records indicate the pool cost $125,000, and measured 50.38 meters by 18.3 meters (165 feet long and 60 feet wide / 55 yards by 20 yards).

Casino Pool 1964

The Casino Pool in 1964 with the construction of the Hall of Fame museum behind it. Photo Courtesy: City of Fort Lauderdale

Details

  • The first concrete was poured on November 27, 1927.  Considering the number of holidays in this season and that no night was done, this was a record time for constructing a building of this size and type.
  • Costing approximately $125,000 to build, the Las Olas Casino was 165 feet long and 60 feet wide with 12 lanes requiring 422,000 of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean to fill.
  • Locker rooms were located underneath the pool
  • Bleacher on one side, children’s wading pool, pavilion and veranda facing the ocean
  • Spanish minaret tower was only used at night when flood lights were needed
  • The volunteer Red Cross Lifesaving Corp of Fort Lauderdale had a special dressing room and club room
  • Concession stand located in the northeast corner of the venue was operated by the Fort Lauderdale Service Company, RC Henderson

Contributors

  • Architect – Francis Abreu
  • Contractor – John Olsson
  • Plumbing – Weidmueller & Schlemmer
  • Wrought Iron – Ogden-Langmead
  • Lumber – Fort Lauderdale Lumber
  • Gate City Sash & Door
  • Fort Lauderdale Mercantile
  • Raymond-Clopeck Hardware Co.

The Casino Pool remained at the forefront of the swimming scene for nearly half a century, and witnessed a great deal of history. In 1965 the City built a 5-acre man-made peninsula to house a new aquatic center followed by the International Swimming Hall of Fame dedication in 1968. Today, continuing the great tradition of aquatic sports, plans are underway for improvements at the aquatic center that will enrich our community and inspire new generations of swimmers and divers.

casino-pool-1958

The College swim forum at the Casino Pool in December 1958. Photo Courtesy: Calis Publishing Company

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Kurt Wienants

    So proud to have grown up in Ft Lauderdale, swam in the Casino pool as a todler, continuing a long competitive swimming career at the Int Swimming Hall of Fame pool, and to now seeing the renovations being done building the new pool. It will be EPIC. Ft Lauderdale will once again be the destination place to travel to for major swimming and diving events. I can’t wait to swim a few laps when the renovations are done.

  2. avatar
    Frank Yost

    This is a place I think everyone should experience at lest once , it’s great for your self or the whole family can go, great exercise for the body and your mind. I can’t wait to see what the new pool looks like.

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