Asser Levy Public Baths New York now part of the Asser Levy Recreation Center, is a historic building located at the corner of Asser Levy Place and East 23rd Street in Kips Bay, Manhattan, New York City. It was named after Asser Levy, one of the first Jewish citizens of New York City, and a strong and influential advocate for civil liberties; it was built in 1904-06and designed by Arnold W. Brunner and Martin Aiken of the firm Brunner & Aiken.One of the entrances to the bathhouse, which were once divided by gender.
The baths were an important part of the drive to alleviate sanitary problems in the city. Many New Yorkers, especially immigrants living in overcrowded tenements, had no place to bathe – an 1896 survey found that there was one bathtub in the Lower East Side for every 79 families – and progressive social reformers pushed for the construction of public bathhouses modeled on those of ancient Rome. In 1895, the state passed a law requiring that localities build public baths, but New York City did not build its first bathhouse, on Rivington Street until 1901. In 1903, the city’s Department of Docks and Ferries released land for a new bathhouse on 23rd Street, which was originally called the East 23rd Street Bathhouse. The design by Brunner & Aiken in Roman Revival style was inspired by Roman baths and the “City Beautiful” movement as well. The building now houses two swimming pools, one outdoors for use in the summer, and one indoors for the rest of the year, and a public health club. It is part of the Asser Levy Recreation Center, which also includes the Asser Levy Playground next door.
The Asser Levy Public Baths building, which was restored by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in 1988-90, was designated a New York City landmark in 1974, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The contemporaneous East 54th Street Bath and Gymnasium, at 348 East 54th Street, is also a designated Landmark.