The Russian baths on posh “La Fayette Place”

“Dr. Edward Guttmann (1828-1896), a German immigrant who arrived in New York in 1854 to practice medicine, founded the Russian Baths on Lafayette Place in the mid-1850s,” states the caption to this 1870s lithograph by John Lawrence Giles.

It’s in a wonderful book of prints called Impressions of New York, by Marilyn Symmes.

“The print, made to publicize the establishment (after Guttmann had sold the business), shows of the facility’s interior amenities to prospective gentleman customers.”

These baths, on what was then called La Fayette Place, a posh residential neighborhood in the 1830s and 1840s, “were most popular with well-off Russian-Jewish immigrants, as it both reminded them of their homeland and reinforced a sense of community in their new country.”

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7 Responses to “The Russian baths on posh “La Fayette Place””

  1. focusoninfinity Says:

    Where these in a Russian neighborhood frequented by Russians; or were they “Russian” only in style, such as a “Russian Tea Room”? If only Russian in style only, what made them “Russian”, as opposed to a “Roman Bath”?

  2. Parnassus Says:

    These baths were once a common part of everyday life. Millionaire James Lick felt they were so important that he provided in his will for free public baths for San Francisco.
    –Road to Parnassus

  3. focusoninfinity Says:

    So why were they “Russian” baths vs. “Roman” baths, or just (paid?) “Public” baths?

  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Here’s something from Wiki

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banya_%28sauna%29

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    It seems like these Russian Baths were to public baths what an expensive health club is to the Y. Russian style, like the Russian/Turkish baths still in business on East 10th Street.

    http://www.russianturkishbaths.com/enter.html

  6. focusoninfinity Says:

    Thanks for the link. It looked legitimate?

    About 40 years ago I was a member of the Raleigh, N.C., YMCA, that had steam and sauna baths, and an old mechanical saddle that no one used any more. I remembered, it came from my one visit at the old YMCA. Soooo….., I decided to try it out.

    Put my towel down and “mounted”; pushing the power handle to walk. That was nothing, so I leaned forward, and pushed the lever full-forward: suddenly I was whipped back, whipped forward; I could hardly hold on, more-less reach that forward handle again.

    “Hellllllpppp!”.

    The staff grabbed the galloping critter by it’s handle, and got us both calmed down.

  7. Connie Says:

    West Side, around 141 street and Broadway, that entire area, in the 1930-1970’s, was considered the “Russian Village”, all immigrants made their way here. Im hoping you might shed some light on this issue too…

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