Memorial Day to
Labor Day 2023
Historic sites of
Randall Street Pool +
Spring Street Pool
By Hannah Palmer
During the summer of 2023, Flux Projects will present Ghost Pools, a multi-media installation by Hannah Palmer that explores Atlanta’s history with public swimming by creating temporary memorials to two pools in East Point that became a battleground over integration and were eventually abandoned. One was restricted to white residents (now a lawn beside the East Point Historical Society) while the other was in East Point’s segregated Black neighborhood (today an overflow parking lot for the John D. Milner Athletic Complex). At both sites a memorial will be installed from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Once loud with laughter, shouts, and splashing, what if these sites could talk? And can East Point reclaim and reactivate these formerly segregated spaces in a way that acknowledges the past, while looking towards the future?
The site of each pool will be visually indicated by retracing its footprint and installing a diving board and/or ladders to denote what has since vanished. A sound installation will return the sounds of summer, helping to bring to life for the community and attendees the magic these places once held. A plaque giving the pool’s history and an outdoor exhibition chronicling the history of public swimming locally and nationally will accompany each memorial. And throughout the summer, special events will further reactivate the spaces.
Both a public history and art project, Ghost Pools attempts to set the historical record straight, creating a shared understanding of what happened to East Point’s Jim Crow-era swimming pools. How they were funded, designed, litigated, defunded, and ultimately abandoned reflects a pattern across the nation of segregated public spaces. Because the pools were literally erased, their history has yet to be told (until now) and East Point lacks a public swimming pool to this day.
Palmer will collaborate with visual, sound, and performance artists to transform the former pool sites into an inviting space for the community to explore and reflect on this complicated, often painful history.
Photos: Spring Street Pool (left) and Randall Street Pool (right), courtesy of the East Point Historical Society
With Ghost Pools, Flux Projects continues FLOW, a multi-year series designed to explore Atlanta’s history with water, how it has shaped our city and the potential it holds for our future. FLOW engages issues of conservation, equity, and urban design through installations and performances around the city.
About the Artist
Hannah Palmer is a writer from Atlanta. Her books and essays are informed by her work as an urban designer, always interested in peeling back layers of the built environment to understand the history and wildness that shapes the landscape. Palmer’s work documenting the lost neighborhoods around Atlanta’s “world’s busiest” airport grew into a campaign to restore the hidden headwaters of Georgia’s Flint River (Finding the Flint). Since 2018, this focus on environmental justice led her to other privatized, segregated, and sullied waters of the urban south. Palmer’s current research and writing outline a growing crisis in access to water and how racial and economic segregation has stunted the growth of communities. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Palmer earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sewanee: The University of the South. She lives in East Point with her husband and sons.