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Mt. Morris Turkish Baths (former)

About this listing

Popular bathhouse and one of the last in NYC, founded in 1898

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Harlem
Pools, Gathering Place

Place Matters Profile

This establishment was founded in 1898 by a group of Jewish doctors, when Turkish (hot air) baths were an important part of the religious and social traditions of Eastern European Jews. The doctors lived on the upper floors, using the basement as a professional spa. In the 1920s, Finnish immigrant Hugo Koivenon bought the baths and incorporated Finnish features such as "needle showers" and vitea treatments. East Harlem residents (especially those living in the neighborhood's many cold water flats) came for the sauna, steambath and therapeutic pool.

During the 1930s Mount Morris Baths began to attract a gay clientele, and was for a long time the only gay bath in the city to admit African American men. In 1985, the City Department of Health closed down many of New York’s gay bathhouses due to mounting fear of the AIDS epidemic, but Mount Morris survived unscathed. Located on a quiet block...

Read More


George Chauncey. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic, 1994.

Alan Feuer. "Mount Morris Journal; A Gay Bathhouse in Harlem? Hey, It's No Secret." New York Times, 19 Jan. 2003.

"A Harlem Renaissance." New York Blade, 1999.


Anonymous Nominator

Nominator submitted place name to the Census of Places that Matter.

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