Monday, May 24, 2010

A brief part of The New York Public bathhouse's history on East 11th Street



Thanks to EV Grieve reader Shawn Chittle for this great post on The New York Public bathhouse on East 11th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B.

As he notes, renowned photographer Eddie Adams bought the bricked up abandoned space in the 1980s and eventually was able to refurbish the building into his studio. Shawn also has a snippet from the DVD, "An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story." (Adams died in 2004.)

Read the whole post and watch the video about the bathhouse here.

Here's the trailer for the movie, which came out last year...



And the Bathhouse Studios is still in use today for various things...

One last thing... NYC Songlines notes that part of "Ragtime" was filmed here....

9 comments:

Larry Slade said...

One can get a good view of the back of the place from the 3rd story lavatory in the library on 10th St.

Lisa said...

For a while in the 1980s it was a wholesale grocery storage space called Zambrana's; when that went under it became an illegal chop shop. Adams bough the place in the 1990s, not the 1980s, as Shawn said - our building spent 18 months vibrating while all of the concrete in the bathhouse was jackhammered out so I remember. Reality is, Adams wasn't that great a neighbor; wasn't friendly when people said hello, had a real crappy attitude and basically went around saying he'd "saved the block" by taking over the bathhouse, thereby ignoring those of us who'd all been living there long before he'd even known the place existed. And let's not even mention the rap videos that used to shoot on his outside deck until 4 AM, with a full sound system, lights and noise, deal? On to nicer things, yes, Milos Forman filmed the Lower East Side parts of Ragtime on 11th betwen A and B - all the scenes with Mandy Patinkin were shot here. Most of the trees on the block were Forman's gift to the residents when filming wrapped, they were his way of thanking us for the production taking over the street for 3 months. He also donated 5 grand to the block association (but God knows what happened to it, cos I sure don't).

Doll said...

Awesome! I was looking at that building a few weeks ago and had no idea Eddie Adams bought it and turned it into a studio.

Shawn Chittle said...

Thanks Lisa - 90's then - probably early 90's? I stand corrected. The graffiti sure looked (late) 80's to me.

There is a brass "Ragtime" plaque on the wall of the bathhouse commemorating the filming. I never noticed it until yesterday when walking back from 11B.

When you watch the documentary, you'll discover Adams was certainly a "colorful" character, chronically grumpy and unhappy. Not unlike Kenny, the bartender at 11th Street Bar. Once you get to know him, he's really nice. Until then, watch out!

Lisa said...

Shawn - the building was empty for years so that graffiti was probably on it since the 80's, sure. Ragtime filmed in 1980, so the plaque's been there a while, but it's discreet, so I can see why you might have missed it. My best Eddie Adams story - not long after he and his family moved in, there was an exhibition of his photography in some Midtown gallery. I was at the opening, went up to him, introduced myself, and mentioned that I was his next-door neighbor. Before I could welcome him to the block, he looked at me witheringly and said, "So?" and walked away. It never got any better after that!

VH McKenzie said...

Confirmed -- I bought my apt. on the same block, a few doors west, back in 1989, long before the Adams family arrived. Our building was referred to in the prospectus as "Ragtime". A cheesy ploy at bestowing some glamour on a block riddled with drug dealers 24/7, blown out street lights to shield same, and a notorious crack den in a city-owned building on the corner. Was it The Foundry? That seems to stick in my head.

The Bath House was nothing but a serious chop shop when I moved into my place and Eddie Adams et. al (i.e. $$$$) didn't show up for many years later. In fact, a friend and I had even entertained the idea of snapping up the Bath House and resurrecting an updated version/spa in the early '90s but we didn't have enough cash. We were poor working stiffs with just a dream.

Then Eddie showed up and turned it into a high-end photo/film studio.

My kids shared a school bus with Eddie's son in the early 2000s, so I don't think they arrived on the block until very shortly before then - mid to late 90s?

Yeah, they occasional monopolize the block with jobs but they don't bother me much at all. But they will TOTALLY have your vehicle towed if you park one inch into any of their driveway space. Had a guy once watch us from their window, nod as we parked, as if to say, sure, it's cool. And then had our car towed. Bastard.

But that was after Eddie passed......can't blame him for that one.

Lisa said...

VHMcK - Yes, it was the late 1990s when Eddie bought the place. He applied for a residential construction permit (it was posted on the safety fence in front) but then promptly proceeded to build the place out as a commercial space. And two out of the three self-declared "No Parking" zones in front of the place are totally illegal, only one is actually used as a driveway. Typical of his whole attitude. Re "The Foundry" - which corner? 11th and A on the NE corner had Paradise Alley until that burned and was torn down around 1982, that was next door to 507, long an HPD-run hotbed of drug dealing, and then there was the Rock mid-block, where the junkies used to gather to score. The building on the NE corner of 11th and B that now houses Spina used to be a 24/7 heroin deli, but I don't remember any other really badass places. Am I forgetting one? (There were SO MANY!)

DAVID MOORE said...

HI ....... DOES ANYONE REMEMBER A BAR IN THIS NEARBY AREA CALLED ' GOLD BAR '' , I THINK ON AVE B OR C .. I T WAS A VERY MINIMALIST INDUSTRIAL SPACE , WITH STEEL FLOORS , IM PRETTY SURE IT WAS IN A SPACE THAT USED TO BE A LIQUOR STORE , WITH THE OLD SIGNAGE LEFT ABOVE THE SHOP WINDOW , ... LATE 80S ,EARLY 90S .. IT WAS LIT FROM THE BASEMENT , WITH LIGHTS SHINING UP THROUGH , CRACKS BETWEEN THE STEEL PLATES THAT WERE THE FLOOR......ANY INFO WOULD BE APPRECIATED.............THANKS

Anonymous said...

does any one remember a bar , called'' gold bar'' , on ave b or , mid 80s to early 90s , ,.... very austere . minimalist -industrial .. in a former liquor store..... --------VH MACKENZIE , U SAY UVE LIVED THER SINCE 1989 OR THE OWNER OF EV GRIEVE ... du u remember its address or location ... i pretty sure it wasnt advertised or even marked from the street .........ANY INFO , PLEASE ......THANKS , DAVID