Bath Beach is a neighborhood in the New York City Borough of Brooklyn in the United States. It is located at the southwestern edge of the borough on Gravesend Bay.
Sometimes erroneously thought to be part of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach is actually separated from that neighborhood by 86th Street to the northeast. To the north, also across 86th Street, lies New Utrecht. To the northwest across 14th Avenue is Dyker Beach Park and Golf Course, and to the southeast across Stillwell Avenue is the neighborhood of Gravesend. To the south, across Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek, are Seagate and Coney Island. Bath Beach is served by the D elevated subway line of the New York City Subway system, also called the BMT West End Line. Stations along the line serving the community are 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, 25th Avenue, and Bay 50th Street.
The term “Bath Beach” once described the beach resort specifically as part of the community of Bath, New York. Bath and Bath Beach are now more or less synonymous. The population of Bath Beach received a boost at the end of 1863 when steam dummy railroad service connected the community to the City of Brooklyn horsecar system terminal at 25th Street and 5th Avenue in Sunset Park.
Despite its name, the neighborhood no longer has an actual beach. The beach was paved over during the mid-twentieth century to create the Shore Parkway. On the northwestern half, a promenade was constructed to allow residents access to a sea wall. The southwestern half, filled in with land excavated from the construction of the nearby Verrazano-Narrows Bridge during the 1960s, now houses a large park with ballfields and the Caesar’s Bay shopping center.
During the 1970s, Bath Beach’s commercial strip along 86th Street was used for scenes in the 1971 feature film The French Connection, in the opening credits to the popular television series Welcome Back, Kotter, and most famously in the opening scene of the 1977 feature film Saturday Night Fever. Tony Manero, the lead character (played by John Travolta), walks along the sidewalk, admires shoes in a storefront window, buys two (stacked) slices of pizza through a pizzeria window-counter, and ends up at the hardware store where he works (based on a real hardware store on Fifth Avenue in nearby Bay Ridge).
Primarily a working class community of semi-attached houses and small apartment houses, Bath Beach is becoming a diverse ethnic community as recent Chinese, Hispanic, Arabic-speaking, and Russian-speaking immigrants displace the native-born Italian-Americans, continuing a cycle (the Italian-Americans’ immigrant parents and grandparents displaced native-born German-Americans in the mid-twentieth century). The neighborhood contains a variety of small mom-and-pop businesses intermixed with chain stores, most of which are located at the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center at the terminus of Bay Parkway and on 86th Street along the elevated D line.