This is a bit off-topic, or at least out of chronology, but I’m using my bully pulpit to respond to suggestions that the land at the Broadwalk and Johnson Street revert back to how J. W. Young planned it originally. I think this is a wonderful suggestion. Perhaps you would like to know more about the original “casino pool.”
Young’s Hollywood Casino swimming pool was just south of Johnson Street. In the hand-colored card, above, the festive awnings may be noted. The photo at right was taken from the south looking across the pool to the cabanas on the north. Bottom left is the corner of a kiddie pool. Bleachers surround the pool for spectators to a swimming and diving event. Dates would be late 1925-1926. Both images courtesy of Bill Schaaf.
J. W. Young knew the value of entertaining his visitors to Hollywood, and he also planned his city for families. As soon as he was able to cross to the beach island and put in the Broadwalk and some roads, the first permanent structure he erected there was the swimming casino. Here he invited the public not only to swim, but he also put on aquatic shows, swimming races, diving, and comical boat races. By the way, this was a salt-water pool, the best for swimming. To design it Young hired a top Miami architect, Martin L. Hampton.
Young’s casino was not merely a swimming pool. Please note that back then “casino” did not refer to gambling. Casinos were meeting places. Photos of Hollywood’s casino in the 1920s show the Olympic-size pool with a 3-story diving tower at the deep end. Expanding the pool property to the north and south were two wings, two stories high. These were changing rooms, 100 of them. The south wing was taken down after the 1926 hurricane, but the north wing remained at least through the 1940s. The rooms were rented out as cabanas by “day, week, or season,” as we used to say. My family were among those who had a cabana at the pool. Such a convenient place to change, shower, put on dry clothes, nap, or sit on the walkway and watch pool activities. Also, there was a kiddie pool next to the cabanas, for the little ones. Behind the diving tower, on the west side of the pool complex, was a 3-story structure that was intended to be a restaurant.
J. W. Young knew how to do things in style. Why not follow his example on this central beach site, updating for the 21st century. Build an Olympic-size, salt-water pool, with risers on a least one side for an audience. Add cabanas with showers for changing in comfort, and a kiddie pool. Charge admission to the pool, and weekly or annual fees for the cabanas (and make these rooms comfortable). Put a nice restaurant on the west, overlooking the pool. Besides open swims, hold entertainments, for example, bring Olympic and World-class racers and divers to train, present water polo, and world-class synchronized swims teams. Don’t forget, Olympic medalist in the 1930s, Katherine Rawls, trained in our pool as a child.
For more about Young’s casino pool and photos, see Joan Mickelson A Guide to Historic Hollywood, and Virginia TenEick, History of Hollywood 1920-1950. Both books are available at the Hollywood Historical Society, 954-923-5590. Its Research Center has many photos of Young’s casino pool beginning with its construction in 1924. The Research Center is open every Friday all year from 10:00 to 11:30, at 1520 Polk Street, rear.
Virginia Elliott Lathrop TenEick was a reporter for the Miami Herald. Her book, published in 1960, is a series of entertaining facts and stories about Hollywood in the 1920s to the 1940s, which she experienced firsthand. She was my godmother.