Remembering Ravenhall's

Dear Mr. Coney Island...
What became of the swimming pool known as raven hall? I remember passing it on my way to the beach. Wasn't it a salt water pool with access to the beach from the swimming pool through a gate near the boardwalk? I remember dancing under the bordwalk at Bay 12 . What a great time back in the early 50's.
- Joan

Hello Joan,

Yes, Ravenhall was a wonderful place that occupied the entire block at West 19th Street. The salt water pool was the largest in Coney Island. There was also a smaller pool next to the Boardwalk entrance, as well as a gym, handball courts, steam rooms, and a small private beach. Ravenhall opened in 1867 as a hotel and over the next century grew into a large resort that was destroyed by fire in 1963, a year before Steeplechase Park closed. The Abe Stark ice rink and parking lot occupies the site today.

Comments

I'm always learning something new about New York history so this another part of the lesson. I didn't know about Ravenhall. If you've seen Raging Bull with Robert De Niro he meets the girl that becomes his wife at a public bath(swimming pool) but I'm not sure where that supposed to take place. I'm guessing Queens. If you know I would be very glad to know. I'll have to ask my Mom about Ravenhall. She was born and raised in Brooklyn. I had the fortune to be able to be there twice. Thanx a lot.

I can clearly remember Ravenhall Pool. During my junior high (PS 128) days growing up in Bensonhurst, a couple of friends and I had season passes to the pool. We spent most of our days during the July and August there. I can remember the beach access that went under the broadwalk which led out to the beach and the ocean. I may be wrong but I believe there was a snack bar of sorts under the boardwalk that used to be called a "bop-house" which was frequented by teens much older than I. The cool thing about going to Ravenhall was getting off the West End Line subway at the end of the line, then walking to the pool. You would pass so many interesting places and see all kinds of people. As for Washington Baths, I may have gone there once. I attended a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) summer camp for a couple of years which was located across the street from the Half Moon Hotel. Is the hotel building still there?

As a child Ravenhall was magical! It's amazing how much I remember, the lockers, snack bar, the waitress named "Trixie", punching bags, the hugh salt water pool (which I unfortunately tasted as I learned how to swim!) , the teenagers dancing, the steam rooms, the scents, getting our hand stamped to get onto the beach as we walked under the boardwalk to get to the beach. I remember the small pool, behind the lockers and the arts and crafts room. It was such a wonderful place. I'm sorry that my own children will never experience the magic of Raven Hall and the Coney Island ambiance of long summer days. I would love to find some pictures.

Although I was 11 when Ravenhall closed I can remember it vividly and spent many happy summer days there. The diving boards were named: jack, queen, king and ace based on their height. The carpets surrounding the pool that stung your feet if you didn't have footwear. The different colored benches around the pool, the ramps leading up, the handball courts, punching bags, four-wall handball court with seating above, the kiddie pool, watching the Yankees on the TV by the entrance to the lockers. Hearing the screams of the people riding the roller coaster in Steeplechse right across the street. The parachute jump hovering in the background (fifty cents per ride). Searching for discarded round Steeplechase cards with punches still left to allow rides. Riding the old subwaycars with the straw seats. The sea beach or west end were the names of the lines we took to Stillwell Avenue. Phil Pepper's watermelon stand with moneys in cages. I can go on and on. What a wonderful place Coney Island and Ravenhall was back then. It is still nice but not in the same ways as back then.

When I searched for Raven Hall Pool and your site popped up, I choke up immediatly. I lived off of Avenue P and Ocean parkway when I was a kid (1955-60)and Raven Hall was close and affordable for my dad. Those Diving boards named after playing cards, the up and coming boxers showing off for the girls, and the sound of prop airplanes in the sky as we laid there eating potato and egg sandwiches our mom's made. You just can't get that feeling from an I-pod.
thanks,
Vincent Turturro

I grew up on West 19 Street - my childhood memories included summer days at Ravenhall. I think all my cousins and myself were 'taught' to swim by Sal the lifeguard. His lesson was a quick push into pool as we walked past his chair. It was sink or swim. Naturally he was prepared to jump right in if you didn't come up doing a doggy paddle. I also recall staying late into the evening when the pool water was changed. We would follow the water towards the drain and wait with anticipation as the pool was refilled. Us girls would also wander through the indoor lockers located near the boardwalk. Naturally we had to go to the sun deck where all the women were sunbathing in the nude! We would even have races with the boys to see who could manuver through the men's and womens outdoor lockers the fastest. We swam at Steeplechase pool and both pools at Washington Baths. They could not compare with Ravenhall.

A relative worked at the Nedicks consession stand at the base of the roller coaster in Steeplechase Park. He would give us the tickets which still had punches left, we had all the rides mastered.

Ravenhall, Steeplechase, the beach, Totonno's pizza on Friday night's while watching the Fireworks from our upstairs porch. It seemed back then that summer lasted forever.....

I also grew up on west 19th st between Neptune and Mermaid Ave.

Mom met dad there. The rest is history. I remember it well. It was pretty cool as was the last stand of Coney Island with Steeple Chase at that time. To a 5 year old it all was pretty impressive.

We spent many a day at Raven Hall baths . A lot of the guys from the neighborhood ",which was the lower east side of Manhattan " had season lockers there. D" train straight to still well ave. From the rear
off raven hall ,we were able to go out to pier 15 , under the boardwalk . Lots of girls & all Doo Wop
Does were times I will never forget.

To David French: In "Raging Bull," I don't know where the scene at the pool is supposed to take place, but the pool where it was filmed is the Carmine Street Pool in Greenwich Village, at the intersection of Carmine Street, Clarkson Street and Seventh Avenue South. It's a public pool, still there and open in the summer, with a gym that's open year-round.

My first weekend working for Ned Tilyou in the Spring of 1963 was on the Sports Car ride next to the Parachute Jump. Steeplechase had not yet opened but the Sports Car ride was operating because you could access the ride directly from either the boardwalk or Steeplechase Park. After we closed the ride ( I think it must have been Sunday night) , The Ravenhall Baths went up in flames and threatened Steeplechase park. Everyone working there went to work trying to save Steeplechase. I was 15 at the time. I remember being sent up to the top of the Steeplechase rollercoaster with a fire hose to wet down the ride because huge flames and embers were drifting over from the Ravenhall conflagration and most of the park was wood, including the rollercoaster. Everyone was worried that Steeplechase would go up in flames too. Well it didn't and I got to work there for two years until Steeplechase closed at the end of '64. I went on to have two memorable summers working there. What a place!

I love this website. I have been searching for information about my family for the past 15 years and happened to come across this web site. I have collected photos of the Ravenhall bath house and history over the years. My Great Great Grandfather Peter Ravenhall opened the first bath house and years later his son Richard took over the bath house and from the photos I have collected it looks to be that he tuned it into a large hotel and beach resort. If any one can remember those days and or has photos I would love to see them. Contact me at araven@optonline.net I have a audio CD that my dad made of my Grandfather who was a great story teller like his Grandfather before him Peter Ravenhall original establisher of Ravenhall bath house. The CD is very interesting with all the family history and stories of my Grandfathers early years in Coney Island living the summers at his uncles bath house. My Grandfather was in his 90s at the time my father interviewed him. I'm grateful that my dad and Grandfather took the time to save these historical treasures of the past.

Family member of the old Ravenhall Bath house
Dysart A Ravenhall Jr

It's great to see people sharing there memories of Ravenhall's bath house.
I want to thank those who have contacted me with family memories and photos of the bath house. It's great to here about the history of the place and the fine times had there.
This is some information I found about my family original owners of the bath house.
Peter Ravenhall started the bath house in 1863. His son Richard took it over in 1884 and then sold it in 1926 to Joseph Sartori and Joseph Balzarini. They kept the name Ravenahll's bathing house.

Dysart A Ravenhall Jr

My grandmother, Pearl Adels Loeb, included in her written family stories a part about Coney Island and Ravenhall. Here's what she said about growing up around 1905-1910:

I remember when I was a little girl and we lived in the Bronx. Mamma would take us kids to Coney Island. This was a real safari, from one end of Manhattan to the end of Brooklyn. We had to change trains two or three times, and complete the journey by trolley car, as the trains did not go that far. Lunches had to be packed for all of us, and while we did not own bathing suits, they could be rented for 25 cents each. It was a very expensive day, but it was a once a year treat. The boys carried their lunches in shoeboxes, and many times Mamma would catch them sneaking something out of the box. It was such a long trip, and so much effort to spend just to enjoy a dip in the ocean.

The bathhouses at Coney Island were numerous, but the most exclusive one was "Raven Hall", where it was a dollar for the use of the bathhouse for a day, and their section of the beach was fenced off.

So many years later, in 1920 when my future husband Martin and I were dating, and we would walk to Coney Island, which was about five miles from where I then lived. We would go to the famous "Feltman’s", where for five cents we each had a big hot dog on a roll with relish. You could sit outdoors to enjoy music while you ate. We would ride home for five cents fare. That was a big date!

Seems many others had the same great times at Ravenhall that I had.
As a teenager in the early fifties, I used to get a season pass to Ravenhall every summer. I have great memories of the pool and the facility locker rooms constructed with 1x6 tongue & groove board walls (we used to poke holes in the walls between the ladies lockers and the mens). I remember the Brylcream dispensers hung on the walls adjacent to the steam rooms so we could groom our hair before going out to the beach via the exit under the boardwalk. The life guards were also expert divers, and used to put on shows on the weekends. Everyone would gather around the pool and the divers would do "cannonballs" from the high level diving boards (there were three levels) , raising enough water to wet everyone. There were the bodybuilder "regulars" who were there everyday, like a guy named Jasper who worked out on the high bar. At the end of the day, we took a steam bath, and then to close your pores, the showers were the coldest I'd ever taken.
On my way home, I walked along Surf Ave and would buy pizza at Nunzi's or a knish at Katz's and stopped to eat it in front of Tirza's Wine Bath to watch the street pre-show with the scantily clad women and the barker trying to lure you in. From there I continued down the street to get a hot dog or chow mein on a bun at Nathan's, ate it while walking to the West End train station. Before I made my way up to the el, I had a lemon ice from Phillip's Candy shop, located at the station. I don't know how I had dinner after that, but I did.
Well that was my routine in a nutshell ! Those were great times in my life. I've been researching the net for some inside pictures of Ravenhall during that period but all I could find is just one postcard shot. Also, I've been trying to get some street shots of Surf Ave along the route I described above; Tirza's, Nunzi's, Ravenhall surrounding area, maybe some "under the boardwalk" shots. If anyone can help along those lines I would really be greatful.
Thanks,
Mike Izzi

I just got a call from my brother asking if I remembered the adress of Ravenhall. Both he and aaaaaaaai worked at Ravenhall in the mid to late 50'2. It was great to read the comments on this site. There are so many memories this has brought up. The live Rock acts, the Polar Bear club, the hot rods running up and down the street. Too many to tell here. TF anyone wants to swap memories I can be contacted at roberngil@aol.com

My great-aunt, Dora Hahn, ran Ravenhall through the 50s and into the 60s. I, as well as a number of my relatives, worked there during summers off from school. Prior to working there I remember spending many great days there. Lifeguards put on comedy shows on the diving boards. There were great handball games and tournaments. Teenage boys were always showing off their routines on the high bar. And who could resist walking down the street to get a Nathan's hotdog from the Original Nathan's.

What memories of time gone by!

Sure I remember Ravenhall, but does anyone remember washinton Baths and Washington Baths Annex located a short distance away from Ravenhall? What happened to them ? When did they close their doors? I remember spending the day at Washington baths with my uncle. He would take me into the steam rooms, boy were they hot

My grandfather, Charles J. Kean was the manager of Ravenhall during the 1930's and into the 40's. It was there, working for his father at Ravenall during the Summer, that my dad, Owen Kean, learned to be the great swimmer that he was, and to work a broom like nobody's business - two skills that he imparted to me. Well, at least the swimming part.

I too remember Ravenhall, it was the best. Times were truly different. We were allowed to get a season locker at 16 with our parents permission of course. Taking the Sea Beech from the lower east side to the last stop for 15 cents was a bargin. Going home and getting a frank, fries and a pineapple soda from Nathans was the best.

in the 50s my friends and i had a season-pass most every summer..it kept us out of trouble for sure

I too will never forget Ravenhall. Learned how to "lindy" at the concession stand. A quarter played 3 records. My locker had pictures of Ricky Nelson, Fabian, Elvis, Bobby Darian and Sandra Dee. We all had her hairdo.

Miss the locker lady Edna? She was the "key" person, really, she held all the keys tied to her waist.

The train ride home on the Seabeach Line now the N was the best. Sunburned, pizza, soda and still singing the songs from the jukebox.

The best days of my life.

there was an exit to the beach at Bay 15...a reflective pen was used to mark your shoulder and reflected on an ultra-sviolet light to get back in. If you rubbed your shoulder on a friends shoulder it would show up on the light and we got many friends in for free.

I have read all the coments above. I know Washington baths was salt water but I don't recall Ravenhall being salt water.

I've been searching the web for some time looking for pictures or articles on Ravenhall. Reading the comments on this site really brought back some fond memories. From the early 50's thru it's closing in 1963, Ravenhall was our "summer home". There were so many activities keeping us busy all day that our summers just flew by. With fond memories I remember "Sal" the lifeguard who kept everyone in line. I worked as a lifeguard the last two years it was opened. We had so much fun putting on those diving exhibitions. In the latter years WABC would air a R&R show on Tues evenings which coincided with Fireworks night. If I close my eyes, I can visualize the whole complex from the Punching bags in the front to the handball courts in the center of the park to the beach exit under the boardwalk. Remember the food stand under the boardwalk where you get those great meatball heroes?

With all that is going on in the world today, I wish I could escape to those simple and carefree days.

Growing up in canarsie in the 50s to working class parents provided little in affordable summer activities. My brother and I and a lot of local kids went to Canarsie Day Camp which was run in a local elementary school, I think PS 272 on Seaview Avenue. Since there were no pools, we went on bus rides weekly to learn how to swim at two sites. One was the YMCA building in downtown Brooklyn and the other was Ravenhall. A simple ride on the yellow school bus provided an exciting trip to Ravenhall pool which for a young kid was huge. I learned how to swim at this pool and it holds fond memories. My husband and I happened to be talking about where we learned how to swim yesterday and the name Ravenhall came up and it was not until I googled this site that I was able to fully realize the extent of my days of summer camp and swimming.

I lived in Bensonhurst (68th st between 17th and 16th ave).I started to go to Ravenhall as a toddler back
during WW2.My Mom would take my sister and I in the morning and my Dad would come by in the afternoon.
Some of my Aunts and Uncles would also be there.Season passes were fairly cheap.When I was a teenager
I bought my own pass.I think it was something like $9.I remember every year I would split my big toe open running on the cement.There were daily and season lockers seperated by male and female.Both sides had
rooftop solariums for nude sunbathing.I always remember going in the steamrooms and than taking an icecold
shower.There was no warm water.There was a huge saltwater pool,a diving pool,and kiddie pool.On the Surf
Ave side there was a pretty good sit down resturant.I always ordered the hot open roast beef sandwich.On the side facing Steeplechase Park there was a small resturant selling meatball sandwiiches.In those days they were 35 cents.We used to go out the back way to the beach,were they stamped your shoulder with
something that showed up under ultra-violet lght show you could get back in.When you were going to the beach you came out under the Boardwalk.On the right there was a bar with a jukebox and everybody was
dirty dancing.In those days the ocean wasn't very clean and I can remember seeing turds and condoms floating.On Tuesdays nights they had a fireworks display off shore.When We left We usually stopped at Nathans for a hotdog or chow mein sandwich(15 cents)Nathans rootbeer drinks were about half foam.As
teenagers We also had clams on the halfshell.About $1.a dozen.A those were the days.

Forgot one thing every tuesday night the fireworks and going up to the ladies solarium to watch them. Also the showers and locker rooms, steam room can just go on and on.

I am so happy to find this site. I loved Ravenhall and all the memories. The Bop House under the boardwald, Bay 15, Sal the lifeguard. Dancing by the juke box. The heros by the Sand. The Franks and knishes and the many tables to eat your lunch at. All the different crowds, wow, what great memories. Also the night Cousin Brucie had a special show.

My sister told me about this website. It brought back wonderful memories! I think back in the 50's when my mother would bring us 4 children by train each day in the summer days to raven hall. We didn't even have a car to get around. She god rest her soul transported us each day for the full summer days.
I remember Sal the lifeguard. He was a crazy guy. My father was a former lifeguard and he would take us to meet the guys that would go each January into the cold water. One guy I think was part native Indian and I think his name was cy. My father was also a grand master with playing checkers and would play with a lot of the guys. There was a small luncheonette under the boardwalk when you would exit to the ocean beach. We as kids would comb the beaches for soda bottles to bring to this guy at the luncheonette for the 2 cent deposits. We drove him crazy with all of the bottles. He was a good sport and never turned us down for the deposits.
I remember when the end of the summer season would end that raven hall would have a tremdous year end party with live entertainment and all you could eat. They would have edger bergen and the Phillip morris midget (call for phillip morris) announce the entertainment.
I cherish these memories!!

It's wonderful to find this photo of Ravenhall. My friends and I used to take the N train to the last stop, Stillwell Avenue, just about every summer day. We had movie star photos adorning our lockers at the pool, where we'd swim for hours. Each day we'd have our hands stamped and take a dip in the ocean too. On the way home, we'd often take a ride on the Thunderbolt, and then stop at Nathan's for a hotdog and some fries. We'd joke it was our 'job' since we'd usually spend the entire day, pretty much 9 to 5, at the pool and on the beach. Great Coney Island memories.

My name is Diana, my pop ran a consession under the boardwalk until the fire. His name was Jimmy the Greek. I spent many fun filed summer days at Ravenhall. We had a back entrance at the back of my pop's consecession. I would bring all my friends with me to spend the day. I lived on Foster Ave. and E. 3rd St. On the 4th of July we would sleep inside the consession on tables so that we would be ready for the crowds of people. One time we even sleeped on the beech. My mom Jenny would cook all day long for our family and people would come in and my mom would serve them whatever she was cooking. We made many friends through the years. I met my husband while working in my pop's consesion, just celebrated our 53 yr. of marriage. My olders daughter got to enjoy Ravenhall. After swimming all day we would shower and walk the boards, have custards, ride some rides had a ball. I was 3 yrs. old when my pop rented the consesion so I really can say I grew up on Coney Island. D train took us to 18th Ave. Sta. that was my stop. I will never forget the good times of my childhood. Does anyone remember the Martigra? I was there at night it was magical.

I am so pleased that there is still so many memories of ravenhall . It was the best time in my life I am so sorry to know that it is not there any more it is like a piece of history gone forever. Yes the lockers the steam room I always walked passed the tennis courts to get french fries in their little cup with lots of grease, those were summer memories. I too learned to swim there my mother took me there from when I was a little kid up until 1960. I would get refreshments in the indoor building on the way to the lockers I. would leave the pool and jump from the top into the sand box below it sure was fun if any one has any pictures of it I would love to see them

John Manitta # 17 in the memories list above. Lower east side kids who went to ravenhall. Do you recall Joe Volpe, allen Genco, etc.

It,s nice reading all the good memories obout Raven Hall . Me and the guys spent many summers there.
Dancing, DooWop, Girls, Hand ball. They were great times . Pier 15, more girls more dancing.
Sal the life guard had the best tan going. At the end of the season they had a party that lasted until the sun went down. How many of uguys remember diving off the high board then stping at the little mirror and combing tour hair so you looked cool on your next dive? I know each generation had their times,
but the 50ths were the best of them all. Stay cool and keep Doo Woppen.

Karen, I SEEM TO RECALL A JOE VOLPE. ITS BEEN SO LONG. AT 74 THE MEMORY GETS FUZZY.

I remember Joe Volpe! He lived on Hester St in the city. He had wavy hair that was blonde by the end of the summer. He was the first boy I ever kissed, under the boardwalk!

THE GUYS CLIMBED THE SEPERATION TO EYE BALL THE GIRLS, FUNNY STUFF.

WASHINGTON BATHS WAS JUST DOWN THE BLOCK FROM THE HALL , WE NEVER LIKED IT ,TO OLD A GROWD.

This was the place of childhood memories. When you could eat for one dollar, including dessert. It is so heartwarming to read everyones comments.

Eugene,
I am very interested in your 8mm movies taken at Ravenhall. I'd gladly pay to get a copy of the cd you put it on. I have some aerial shots back then that I researched. Also some under the boardwalk shots and some Surf Ave pictures that I would be willing to share.

This photo has brought so many memories of my childhood, for every summer for 18 years, this is what I lived for. The pool, with three soup colored bowls , one bigger then the other. Water cascading down into the pool. The life guard Sal, who applied the bandaid when you were hurt, and taught kids how to dive from the high board. As you walked down the concrete path , hao nd ball courts to the right, and the sand boxes to your left. Straight through, ladies lockers to the right as y ou walked under a wooden covered picnic area. Into the lockers, to the left was mirror room, showers and steam room. Our locker was called a room, but still very small. The most excitement was finding the crack in the wooden wall which separated the mens area, and look at the naked men. Many times on the other side of that wooden wall, the eyeball of the boys trying to look at the naked women is what you found. There were lockers for women , lockers for men, entrance side to side at the other end of the property. Walking toward the beach, the kiddie pool, was where you could have more freedom. Entering on to Bay 15, you had to be stamped so y

you could reenter the property. The sad day was when we received a call from a friend Jenny to tell us the entire place was on fire. A sad sad day.

I was 3 1/2 when Ravenhall burned down. My Dad belong for years and I remember him playing handball. Was it there? Does anyone know what replaced it? My Dad joined another place after.

Would love to hear more commens abpot the "Bop House", from anyone who remembers it.

I recall 2 ways of getting into Ravenhall with out paying. The exit turnsatl on Surf Ave was bent so if you had a lookout and small frame hold your breath and squeeze thru. The other was to know the mark of the day that people had put on there arm when they came thru the exit under the board walk. The mark was put on your arm and read under an ultrvilet ligt when you wanted to return to the pool area from the beach. A neibor girl I think her name was Maria had one of the pencils so the trick was to find the mark or number of the day putit on your arm and you were in. Just another stumble down memory lane.

Just came upon your site re: Ravenhall. Brought back fond memories of my youth. It was where I first saw a steamroom. To go out on the beach you had to pass under the boardwalk and have your hand stamped with a purple marking. I still have 8mm movies taken at Ravenhall -- which I am in the process of having put onto a CD. Those were great times for a "Brooklyn Kid"

so many years of my life was spent at raven hall with my sister joan and cousin arline. There would never be another place like it. There are so many memories which I can never forget. When we heard raven hall went on fire, it was like our world came to an end. I remember the men from the polar bear club, the handball I used to play, and so much more. I can go on and on but it could never express the memories I had at raven hall.

My brothers Bob and Alan posted above - our Aunt Dora ran the office at Ravenhall in the 50s, and our Uncle Bernard was one of the beat cops in that part of town, so we of course felt a bit of "ownership" - so wonderful to share memories of the place … the meatball and veal cutlet sandwiches from the stand just inside the fence; the sandboxes; the high bars; the handball courts where our uncles played endlessly through the summer … ; the steam rooms (where I panicked because I couldn't breathe in all the steam); the labyrinthine locker rooms; the feel of the sand under foot; and of course the pool !! those fabulous diving boards - I actually did dive from the lower boards, and worked up my nerve to jump off the high board a few times (around age 6 or 7 !) … hearing the lovely Puerto Rican divas singing to their guitar accompaniment on the pool deck … going out onto the beach, eating knishes, hot dogs, pistachio soft ice cream cones … and those french fries!!!! not to forget the Tuesday night fireworks seen from the boardwalk … oh my, oh my, oh my …

truly, a time machine.I remember Ravenhall and Washington baths and working in Canarsie schools and moving to the Island. Didn't know anyone was still around and checking the computer. I just became a great grandmother for the third time. WOW

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