Seward Park Bathhouse
Jefferson at Canal / East Broadway
The city acquired the land for Seward Park by condemnation in 1897 but left the site unimproved until the Outdoor Recreation League (ORL) included the park with the nine privately-sponsored playgrounds they opened between 1898 and 1902. Seward Park opened in the north corner of the park on October 17, 1903 as the country's first municipally-built playground. The playground was a prototype for other playgrounds around the city and country with cinder surfacing, fences, a recreation pavilion, and play and gymnastic equipment. The 1903 park design also incorporated a large running track, a children's farm garden and a terra cotta pavilion with marble baths, a gymnasium and meeting rooms.
The pavilion (and, presumably, the bathhouse) was demolished in 1936, around the time the Schiff Fountain (designed in 1895 by Arnold Brunner, who also designed the 23rd Street Bathhouse) was moved to Seward Park from Rutgers Park. The Seward Park bath house was just a few blocks North of the Rutgers Place bath house (still extant), which may have been a factor in its decommissioning and demolition. A new recreation center built in 1941 with facilities for basketball, horseshoe-pitching, and shuffleboard courts, and a large paved area adaptable for roller skating, paddle tennis, and ice skating. (historical sign)
In 1957, a 13-acre slum to the east and north of the park was condemned and leveled to build the Seward Park Houses as a private, free-market co-op. 219 buildings (most dating well back into the 19th century) housing 4,300 people were demolished. The development that opened in 1960 consisted of four 20-story residential buildings housing 1,728 families, two commercial structures and a small office building. Thankfully, a lovely old branch library was spared in the "renewal".
Next: 100 Cherry Street Public Bath