by Kevin Walsh

Asser Levy Place runs for just the length of 2 blocks, from East 24th to 25th Streets west of the FDR Dive. For a short street, it is unusually wide. It was originally laid out as part of Avenue A; parts of the avenue run intermittently from the East Village north to Harlem and are known as Avenue A, Asser Levy Place, Sutton Place, York Avenue, and Pleasant Avenue depending on what part of town you’re in. Asser levy was one of the first Jews in the New Netherland, arriving from Brazil in the 1650s.

The centerpiece of Asser Levy Place is a magnificent bathhouse constructed in 1908. In the mid-to late 1800s, NYC’s population increased dramatically in the era before running water and workable plumbing — good hygiene was an unattainable dream and communicable disease ran rampant. Thus arrived the idea of pubic bathhouses; they began to appear in 1901. The 23rd Street Bathhouse (later Asser Levy Bathhouse) was designed by architects Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken and the design was based on those of Roman baths of the early Anno Domini period. It was honored as a NYC Landmark in 1974. It now serves as a recreation center and swimming pool in the warm months.

Probably the largest building in NYC based on a Roman bath was the first Pennsylvania Station that stood from 1910-1963.

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