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The Chlorinated Water and Scantily Clad Bodies of Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982


No dream of Southern California is complete without a swimming pool. What started as a totem of status and privacy became, in the postwar years, an affordable luxury for middle-class families who wanted a taste of the celebrity lifestyle. Even the empty pool came to take on meaning: a project just begun, or a home abandoned.

The pool is also a shape-shifter: a reflection of whatever the viewer wishes to see. The iconic images in Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982 show us what some of the great photographers and artists of postwar America discovered in these watery indulgences.

View the pictures here: [View with PicLens]

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  • Larry

    Sounds like a blast alright. This is a fond memory for the summer. I know, it can get wild with pool supplies.

    • Jim

      True. Who doesn't have a good time at the swimming pool? Perfect for family bonding on a sunday afternoon.

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  • Lina Dale

    Swimming pools are definitely the perfect embodiment of summer fun. I plan to have one constructed soon and I'm finding greatSydney pool builders for cool and fun architectural inputs. Looks like I'm gonna have a really fun summer. Yay!

  • Mae Brooks

    What we did last summer vacation was to checked-in in a hotel and enjoy the comfy./celebrity treatment plus an unlimited use of the swimming pool. We actually swam during break times because the kids loved it and I like the concept of having pool covers on the kid's area. Sometimes we gotta have some pampering after a hard days of work.

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    Swimming pool is the most enjoyable thing I find in any house I visit. My own house also owns it. Its absolutely a major factor for enjoyment in summer.

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    Awesome pictures. We build our own swimming pool a few years back and it was a great experience. Thanks for sharing this info!

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    Why are pools such a status symbol and yet still such a pain to maintain? I guess that's where a pool boy comes in… :)

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  • Steve Arnold

    This is such a great photo, I love these shots where you can just look so far back in time like it was yesterday

  • Elijah Murphy

    This certainly brings back some memories. We sure had fun back in the day swimming around our old backyard pool.

  • Kristy

    I'm a wedding photographer Virginia Beach and I love taking photos of wedding parties by the pool.

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  • Gilbert Maynard

    I am going to try and build my own pool. Looking forward to learning how to build a good pool.
    Thanks for the post

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    Great looking at people swimming.i feel like going to swim

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  • jadajohn

    The swimming pool is part of the American dream, but is it mostly California, what about the rest of the country?

  • Mark

    Being an Ogden bankruptcy attorney I had to repossess a pool once.

  • Perda De Músculos

    Wish a have a pool one of these days. Of course, it should by the Ocean :)

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    Swimming pools are great for summers! Building one right now in my backyard actually and looking for ideas from Sydney Pool Builders. Gonna be a wild and wet summer!

  • Mark

    Having a pool at home is definitely awesome.

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  • TommyTaimtg

    The backyard oasis. That's a really fitting title. reminds me of islands on a magic card.

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    Now I just want to go swimming. Reminds me of backyard parties, sun, and good family friends :) it sucks for makeup though. I do buy some good stuff here

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    I wonder what kind of camera they were using for this shot. Awesome photography.

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    This is a very psychedelic experience. Shape shifting to match what the viewer wants to see….COOL!

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    Residential swimming pools have been a great place for family bonding since decades. Great to see these photo series. Swimming pools bring people together!

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    Living in Arizona a pool is crucial to staying cool. This is a cool looking pool

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