West 52nd Street Public Bath

52nd Street at 11th Avenue

The Parks Department acquired a 7.4-acre lot in Hell's Kitchen in 1901 and officially opened DeWitt Clinton Park in 1905. The park was designed by landscape architect Samuel Parsons, Jr. and featured a recreation / bathing pavilion (by the architectural firm of Barney & Chapman) overlooking the Hudson River, a gymnasium, a running track, playgrounds, and a children's farm garden. I assume that the 1911 bath house was separate from the 1905 pavilion that was probably built for river bathing. (historical sign).

Regardless, neither building seems to be extant, with the pavilion probably lost when the an acre and a half of the park was chopped off on the river side in 1927 for the elevated West Side Highway (also known as the Miller Highway) that permitted unimpeded truck access to the then-busy industrial waterfront. In a bit of karmic justice, the Miller Highway would meet an ignominious end in around fifty years later. The 20s era design proved to be quite inadequate for growing postwar traffic and with the collapse of a section of the highway on December 16, 1973 (ironically under the weight of a truck traveling to make repairs further south) the highway was closed and, ultimately, demolished. The elevated highway was replaced with an eight-lane at-grade road that was renamed for Joe DiMaggio in 1999.

There is a building across 52nd Street from the south side of the park that has an institutional and early 20th century quality, but the address is wrong. The park itself is a dreary shell of its former self due to overuse and undermaintenance.

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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath
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West 52nd Street Public Bath

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