If you couldn’t tell by the headline, spoiler alert, the answer is a big ole yes!
Unlike other cities around the world that have banned jumping into fountains, in NYC it is totally legal to hop in for a cool down. Whether you want to hop into dirty water or not is up to you, but the water systems of all 50 fountains in NYC are cleaned before they’re turned on for the summer, and maintenance crews keep the fountains clean regularly throughout. But even with a general clean, it’s not a swimming pool. Therefore, no chlorine to kill anything, so even though it’s technically legal the Park Department discourages it.
While it’s legal to jump on in, it is not legal to use them as bathrooms for hygiene purposes—aka, if you need to use the bathroom you’ll have to find a fully functioning toilet; but it’s New York, so you can never be sure people are actually abiding by these rules…and then there’s pigeons and rats to think about too…just saying. It is also against Park Department rules to use the fountains for washing clothes, pets, etc.
We can’t speak for all the public fountains, but in previous years the executive director of the Washington Square Park Conservancy, George Vellonakis, told the New York Times that “the fountain holds almost 32,000 gallons of water between its two tanks,” and that the “water is constantly moving, recirculating between a filtration system (which keeps the fountain clean).”
Find more ways to beat NYC heat on the NYC Emergency Management website.
Also published on Medium.