History of St. Marks Baths 25 Years Later

St. Mark baths located at 6 St. Marks Place opened in 1913 at a time when indoor pluming in most older buildings was non existent. So the people of the neighborhoods would need a central place to bath and relax, the Vapors were born.

The Turkish Bath: A Description

A person using the Turkish bath will relax in a warm room that would be heated by a flow of dry, hot air which causes the bather to sweat freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room before showering themselves with chilled water. After having a full body wash and getting a massage, then they finally retire to the cooling room for relaxation.

In the daytime the baths operated as intended, but at night it belonged to the gays and sometime in the 1960’s St. Marks Baths became exclusively gay.

St. Mark’s Baths was said to be the largest bathhouse in city with 230 lockers, 162 cubicles/rooms, a pool, several lounges, a roof deck and steam room with portholes in the wall like the ones you would see on a cruise ship.

The original Turkish Baths were showing their age in the late 1970’s and in 1979 the building was acquired by Bruce Mailman who closed the original baths. Once acquired he renovated the interior and updated the image calling it “The New St. Marks Baths” a more streamlined space. The Decade of the 1980’s saw a large decline in clientele to the baths with the advent of AIDS.

By 1985 the city of New York began a campaign to close places in the city that were a public health risk, because of the amount of deaths occurring due to AIDS.

So on December 9, 1985 St. Marks Baths were closed for good. At the closing the city had to purchase and install a lock on the building, because in its 72 years it had never closed. It was the end of an era.

Years after Bruce Mailman would fight in court to reopen his bathhouse, but with no chance to reopen it the baths stood silent and abandoned until Brue Mailman Passed away in 1994 from complications due to AIDS. Shortly after his death the building was sold to Youngman Kim owner of Kim’s Video who occupied the building from 1995 til 2009. Since that time it has reincarnated into a restaurant that closed shortly after opening. Upstairs seems to be an Asian karaoke club and the main floor continues to be empty as of December 13th, 2010 when these pictures by us below were taken.

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St. Mark Baths December 13, 2010
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St. Mark Baths December 13, 2010

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