Demolition of 1909 LaGuardia Bathhouse is Underway
It’s been standing on the Lower East Side for 110 years. And now it’s coming down. Brick by antique brick.
The long-dormant LaGuardia Bathhouse, situated just off Madison Street near the Little Flower Playground, is currently undergoing demolition. All because the city decided to change up its coastal resiliency plan that results in the closure of East River Park for at least 3.5 years.
As previously reported, the city quietly determined in mid-December that the crumbling building is not structurally sound and at risk of collapse. In its place will be a synthetic turf field for the community; not for organized sports but passive uses like picnicking.
Demolition is expected to conclude in the next month with an asphalt coating planned for September. Turf will be installed by wintertime.
The LaGuardia Bathhouse dates back to December 1909, a time when the area was dotted with many such facilities as a means to combat contagious diseases that spread through the crowded slums of the Lower East Side. It was originally called the 5 Rutgers Place Gymnasium for its location on the since-demapped Rutgers Place. The facility received an upgrade in the 1940s to include an indoor pool and gymnasium. 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 and never recovered.
The community did rally for its return 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.
So, yeah, it’ll be a field now.