The Pile of Rubble that was the LaGuardia Bathhouse
It had been dormant since the 1970s. Now it’s a pile of rubble.
The LaGuardia Bathhouse – built in 1909 – met its unceremonious end last week after months of demolition work. A backhoe currently sits atop the heap of century-old masonry, clearing the site for an empty field.
As previously reported, the city quietly determined in last December that the crumbling building was not structurally sound and at risk of collapse. So, instead, it’ll be replaced by a synthetic turf field for the community; not for organized sports but passive uses like picnicking. All because the city needed more park space during the coastal resiliency-related closure of East River Park in 2020.
The initial timeline was asphalt coating in sometime this month and astroturf surfacing later in the winter. That schedule seems rather rosy, though.
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.