6. There Was an Electric Bath Factory on Schermerhorn Street
People have always been eager to jump on the latest health craze, and in the late 19th century, that craze was the newly minted electric bath cure. In 1900, the first electric bath house appeared at 168 Sylvan Street in downtown Brooklyn. Sylvan Electric Baths promised cures for rheumatism, gout, sciatia, and more. Their advertisements explained that the hot baths opened up pores, allowing toxins to leave the body.
Essentially, these baths were early hot tubs. At the time they were considered miracle cures, and the business became so lucrative that Sylvan Electric Baths expanded to 180 Schermerhorn Street, setting up shop in a three-story bath complex designed by architect William P. Tuthill. The baths catered especially to women suffering from diseases grouped under the umbrella term “hysteria.”
After a few unfortunate incidents, including one suicide in one of the baths by a terminally ill woman and a lawsuit from a man whose legs were burned during a heat treatment, the bath factory closed. Today, 160 Schermerhorn Street is an apartment complex.