110-Year-Old LES Bathhouse Deemed Unstable, to be Demolished for Turf Field

Posted on: February 11th, 2019 at 5:00 am by

The LaGuardia Bathhouse, a Lower East Side relic abandoned since the 1970s, is to be demolished in the coming months, and replaced with a new playing field.

The city quietly determined in mid-December that the crumbling building, situated alongside the Little Flower Playground on Madison Street, is not structurally sound and at risk of collapse. Demolition permits are already in place, according to Department of Buildings records.

This seemingly “sudden” determination comes in the context of the search for alternate open space when the city moves ahead with closing East River Park to implement a controversial resiliency plan. You’ll recall that, despite years of upgrades and work along the coastline (i.e. the “Big U”), the city is now scrapping the plan altogether.

The Parks Department announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio has already allocated funds to demolish the city-owned building, and to replace it with a synthetic turf field. Demolition is imminent, but the field is expected to open sometime in spring 2020 – just as the agency expects East River Park to close for more than three years.

The LaGuardia Bathhouse dates back to December 1909, a time when the area was dotted with many such facilities as a means to combat diseases that spread through the crowded slums of the Lower East Side. It was the called the 5 Rutgers Place Gymnasium for its location on since-demapped portion of Rutgers Place. The facility received an upgrade in the 1940s to include an indoor pool and gym. By 1957, the surrounding blocks were razed to create the LaGuardia Houses (NYCHA). Like the Baruch Bathhouse further uptown, though, the facility fell victim to the city’s financial hardship two decades later.

The community previously rallied for its return to form some twelve years ago. Former Councilman Alan Gerson gathered alongside 200 neighbors in 2007 to demand the city take action. It was reported at the time that the renovation job would cost $40 million, plus $1 million per year in operational costs.

Recent Stories

Chinatown Garment Industry Hanging by a Thread

Once a hub of manufacturing for the city’s garment industry, there are only a few remaining factories in Chinatown from a peak in the hundreds. The localized industry, which once employed thousands of immigrant women and men, sparked an area restaurant boom in the 1970s. Yet, began to decline in the late 1980s when manufacturers started […]

Residents Unite Against Developer Plans to Swap Park for Parking on LES Waterfront

Residents on the Lower East Side waterfront may soon lose more publicly accessible outdoor space. The developer of a new super-tall plans to reduce a children’s playground to a parking lot. As excavation work commences on Chetrit Group’s 70-story, twin-towered development at 265 South Street, tenants in the adjacent building – Lands End II – […]

Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes. In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets. In […]

Excavation Begins for 70-Story South Street Towers

Cranes, and plywood, and pile-drivers, oh my! Such is the story down on the Lower East Side waterfront. Department of Buildings on April 12 issued official approval to the Chetrit Group to begin foundation activities for its dual 70-story tower at 265 South. A month later, the big trucks are mobilized. While excavation is now […]

For 7th Year Running, Greek Jewish Festival Returns to Broome Street this Weekend

After a more subdued outing last year, the Greek Jewish Festival this spring is on the rebound, pulling out the stops. It returns on Sunday for another go-round. Founded by Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street seven years ago, the event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Greek Jewish community. Years past saw crowds […]