Chicago’s Rooftop Pools Are Now Open

At what temperature does a pool party turn into a polar bear plunge?  That was the question answered Saturday morning when 22 residents of Alta at K Station (550 West Kinzie Street) braved wind chill and water to open the Chicago rooftop pool season.

The Alta pool area, with the east tower rising behind it

Though the air temperature was a deceiving 48°, a blowing wind and occasional drizzle made the eighth-floor outdoor pool area atop Alta’s parking garage feel quite a bit nippier, and the would-be plungers huddled inside until the last minute.

Some people appeared more prepared for the event than others.  One man who claimed to have braved Lake Michigan in worse weather than this wore a full-body wetsuit.  Others brought little more than last Summer’s bikinis and bath towels.  Both swimmers and spectators lined up for a little liquid encouragement in the form of beer and Bloody Mary’s.

At 10:30am, the doors opened and of the 50-or-so people enjoying the booze inside, two dozen headed out onto the deck.  After a few moments taking up positions, Alta’s Christine Klein gave the countdown and the plungers hopped into the water, letting out shrieks as they emerged from the waves (see video below).

The smart headed straight for the heated hot tub just a few feet away.  Others rubbed down their raw limbs with towels.  A few huddled around a nearby gas fire.

Everyone who came to the event, whether they got wet or not, donated five dollars to the American Red Cross’ fund to help Japan.

We’ll update this story, and send out a tweet when we find out the total amount donated.

Update: The event on Saturday raised $600 for the Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan, but that number is expected to increase as more residents continue to donate to the building’s fund.

Video of the actual plunge:


Gallery of photographs:

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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