This park is located on the site of a former tenement and adjacent to what was the first free public bathhouse when it opened in 1901. This and other early bathhouses were built for the sake of public sanitation after Dr. Simon Baruch lobbied hard for new health laws. In 1939, Dr. Baruch’s son donated the land for this park to the city at a time when it was still surrounded by tenements, and in order to provide both a local playground and to improve the bathhouse structure itself.
The Department of Parks press release from the park’s opening on May 16, 1940 describes WPA work on both the bathhouse and the playground:
“The reconstructed bath building has been provided with additional windows, ventilation, light, and enlarged recreation, gymnasium, bathing and swimming facilities… The playground contains, besides a sand pit and shower basin, a brick comfort station, and a landscaped sitting area with quiet game tables for adults… The opening of these facilities designed by the Park Department and built by the W. P. A. makes a total of 326 new or reconstructed recreational areas completed by the Park Department since January 1, 1934.”
As researcher Frank da Cruz explains here, almost every playground referred to was built with New Deal labor and/or funds. The NYC Parks website further notes that when this playground opened, it “featured two handball courts, a basketball court, a softball field, a comfort station, a memorial flagpole, and play equipment.”
The bathhouse was closed and sealed in 1975. The playground was renovated the same year.
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on November 5, 2015.
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