538 East 11th Street; 538-540 East 11th Street | Block : 404 | Lot #23
Description & Building Alterations
This individual city landmark, designated in 2008, was constructed between 1904 and 1905 by architect Arnold W. Brunner for the City of New York. It contained seven bathtubs and 94 showers.
In the early 1900s, the City of New York opened 14 public baths in response to efforts from progressive reformers. These reformers intended to provide the poor with bathing facilities that were not yet available in their tenements. However, it soon became evident that people used the showers more as a means to keep cool during the hot summer months than for hygienic purposes. Eventually, as tenements modernized and plumbing became available, public baths were no longer deemed necessary and began to close. This particular public bath closed in 1958 and was utilized as a warehouse and garage until 1995, at which time photographer Eddie Adams purchased the space and converted it into a high-end fashion and corporate photography studio. This building features a carved Indiana limestone facade in the Beaux-Arts style. It includes rusticated stonework, panels in scroll frames, cabochons in scroll frames featuring a trident and a garland of vegetation and fish, and voluted brackets. The frieze reads “Free Public Baths of the City of New York.”
Block : 404 / Lot : 023 / Building Date : 1904-05 / Original Owner : City of New York / Original Use : Institutional / Original Architect : Arnold W. Brunner