In 1921, the residents of Garden City came together to hand dig and pour concrete, giving life to what would become known as the Big Pool. That next year, the communal effort bore fruit as the pool opened its doors for the first time, welcoming eager visitors. During the 1930s, the bathhouse took shape as a product of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), adding to the pool's amenities including a children's wading pool.
In the 1930s, the zoo's beloved elephants, Moki and Chana, enjoyed their aquatic escapades within the municipal pool once its regular season had concluded. This unique spectacle garnered widespread attention, with spectators flocking from as far as California to witness the elephants.
Fast forward to the 1980s, a couple of enterprising Garden City youths made waves by skiing atop the pool as a creative promotional endeavor. This spectacle aimed to draw attention to Finnup Park, Lee Richardson Zoo, and the remarkable distinction of having the world's largest outdoor free concrete municipal swimming pool.
As time marched on, the late 1990s revealed signs of wear on the pool, necessitating a rejuvenation effort. Responding to input from a dedicated community pool committee, the City Commission formulated a comprehensive master plan. Though the project carried a hefty $8 million price tag, it was strategically divided into manageable phases. The fruits of this endeavor materialized in 2006 when the Big Pool witnessed a transformative overhaul – the most significant in its 84-year history. The late winter and early spring of that year bore witness to its third and most prominent facelift. Notably, the additions included five exhilarating slides, a plunge pool, and a central bulkhead that ingeniously divided the pool into distinct north and south halves.
In 2020, the Big Pool was renovated and re-branded as Garden City Rapids, and has remained, to this day, a popular place for people to enjoy with family and friends!
If you would like to learn more about the Garden Rapids please click on the links below for information about hours of operation, admissions, reservations, pool rules, and more!