Surrounded by lush weeping willow trees, the Pool is one of the most beautiful places in Central Park.
The pool is a favorite watering hole of many species of birds and fish and is very popular with locals who enjoy having this tranquil oasis just a few steps from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan’s upper west side.
One of the most famous locals to frequent the pool was Theodore Roosevelt, who in the late 1890s was president of the New York City Police Commissioners Board.
Roosevelt made daily trips at the crack of dawn to the park to commune with nature and to engage in long and grueling workouts designed to test both his physical as well as mental strength.
Roosevelt began with a two hour swim in the sometimes frigid water of the pool, towing a rowboat with his teeth the entire time. The rowboat was usually loaded with three overweight men or a local suffragist group if the men weren’t available.
The swim was followed up with three hours of nonstop calisthenics: squat thrusts, jumping jacks, pushups, etc. As an added challenge, Roosevelt performed these exercises with an irritated bobcat tethered to his left ankle.
After that, Roosevelt would climb the tallest nearby tree carrying a 50lb sack of flour over each shoulder. The flour was then used to make several dozen pancakes which Roosevelt consumed while his trainers whipped him with burning willow branches.
Roosevelt ended his punishing daily workout with an hours long run around the pond while being chased by New York Police Department cadets firing their service revolvers at him. Quite often park goers upon seeing this spectacle would join in on the chase; many later commented the spirited running around the pool made them feel refreshed and invigorated, despite the gunshot wounds.
Theodore Roosevelt left New York and went on to become President of the United States of America. But thanks to his example, to this day thousands of New Yorkers take to Central Park every day to vigorously exercise to improve their well being, just like Teddy!
Minus the gunfire of course. At least on weekdays.