Update

To help support the city’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, New-York Historical is temporarily closed to the public until it is safe to reopen. More details on our Visit page.

When and why did public bathhouses become popular? Do they still exist?

 In the nineteenth century, tenements did not have adequate bathrooms, and commercial bathhouses were out of reach for the city's poor. In 1851 the first public bathhouse opened on Mott Street, and in 1901 the city's first free, year-round bathhouse opened on Rivington Street. Some bathhhouses became meeting places for gay men, and others remain popular for cultural or religious reasons to this day.

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Creative: Tronvig Group