by Kevin Walsh

In the days before central plumbing, you had to attend to the necessities somehow. New York City used to feature dozens of public baths. A remaining one, on 268 East 10th Street in the East Village, is privately operated (and I have spotted another on Walker Street downtown). There are a few  of these old bathhouse buildings still scattered throughout the five boroughs; this one, formerly NY Public Bath No. 7, 4th Avenue and President Street in Park Slope, is a Beaux Arts terra cotta extravaganza constructed by Raymond Almirall between 1906 and 1910, with massive arched windows, intact separate entrances for men and women.

In the 1990s, Eric Richmond converted the formerly crumbling bath house into a theater space, café, garden and gift shop and renamed it the Brooklyn Lyceum. The Lyceum boasted three theaters, one tiny and two massive, and for years you could see a Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Association (SEPTA) trolley car from Philadelphia in the parking lot next door. Look high above the windows for carven terra cotta wyverns. The Lyceum was a ramshackle joint that nevertheless was a vital community venue, with local performances and talks. These days, it hosts a Blink gym franchise.

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chris November 26, 2022 - 10:08 am

I remember the Times article in the early 70s about the last city owned baths on
Essex st. right before they closed it.The one on 10th st. is privately owned,not public,
so it doesnt qualify.

chris November 26, 2022 - 10:09 am

I remember

Peter November 26, 2022 - 12:21 pm

It’s sad that a unique venue like the Brooklyn Lyceum ended up as a gym, of which there are a multitude, but unfortunately the Lyceum wasn’t financially viable.

Edward November 27, 2022 - 9:42 am

Can’t say I’ve ever seen any old public baths on Staten Island. Do you know of any, Kevin?


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