Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
The neighborhood of Bath Beach is named for the town of Bath, England, home to an impressive complex of Roman baths. The Romans founded the town in the 1st century AD, and named it Aquae Sulfis – “Hot Springs” – because they found hot springs naturally occurring there. The Romans ascribed medicinal effects to the springs and built baths around them; the complex – with a cooling system and lead-lined pools – was discovered, largely intact, in 1755.
Bath Beach itself was once a fashionable retreat. The 1862 construction of the Brooklyn, Bath, and Coney Island Line connected the region with Manhattan, prompting its transformation from a sleepy farming community into a weekend outpost for New York City high society. Throughout New York’s Gilded Age, the shoreline of Bath Beach boasted yacht clubs, villas, and the famous Captain’s Pier Restaurant at the base of 19th Avenue. Bath Beach also had the Bath House resort, opened by Doctors Barley, Rogers, Tillery, and Bard in the late 18th century near Gravesend Bay, and it was a popular destination for convalescents.
In the 1880s, real estate magnate James Lynch bought 350 acres of farmland from the Benson family and incorporated it into his planned suburb of Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea. Present-day Bath Beach encompasses the southern half of this village; the area north of 86th Street lies within the present-day neighborhood of Bensonhurst. Bath Beach stretches north from Gravesend Bay to 86th Street and east from 14th Avenue to Bay Parkway. Bath Beach Playground stands on Shore Parkway and 17th Avenue, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. Parks named the playground for the community in 1987.
Bath Beach Playground is, in the words of Commissioner Stern, “a hop, skip and jump from the Verrazano Narrows.” Parks acquired the site in 1937; it was cleared by changes in road lines from the extension of Shore Road into the present-day Shore Parkway. Most of the site’s features – the current comfort station, handball, basketball, and roller hockey courts, games tables, improved boccie courts and softball diamond – are the result of a large scale rehabilitation completed in 1984 with the assistance of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association. The parkland has since undergone further renovations, most recently for $650,000 in May 2000, funded by Council Member James Oddo. .
The latest renovation gave the park new modular play equipment with safety surfacing, a resurfaced play area, new chess tables, cast iron water fountains with wheelchair accessibility, and circular tree pits. An oceanic theme was designed into the reconstruction, with new crab animal-art spray shower and dolphin and seahorse spring toys. Bath Beach Playground includes community gardens on either side of the 17th Court entrance to the park, and cherry trees have been planted throughout the play area. For more than fifty years, this quiet playground has provided the neighborhood of Bath Beach with land for sports and recreation, and recent investment has ensured its continued attractiveness and safety.
- Bath Beach Park
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