Silvers Baths

Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I would like to know if you have any information about the Silver Baths in Coney Island. It would of been around give or take 1920. I don't know the exact name maybe it was Silver Salt baths. If you have any information i would love to hear from you. I do know it was visited by a big Jewish population. Looking forward to hear from you.
- Helene Ayala

Hello Helene,

Silvers Baths was Coney's fanciest bathhouse and was located on West 23rd Street at the Boardwalk from 1914 until 1968. The original complex burned in the great fire of 1932 and was replace with an ornate buff-brick building with a theater-style marquee that advertised "Russian Turkish Hot Salt Water Baths" and a "Vita Glass Solarium." The Solarium, on the Boardwalk side of the building, was a popular venue for sunbathing.

Silvers had swimming pools, steam rooms, restaurants, dormitories for overnight stays, and masseurs. The baths had a jitney that would pick up customers at the Stillwell Subway Terminal and deliver them to the front door. Silvers was operated by John Bonsignore in its final years. The clientele was mostly of Eastern European descent.



My father had a sign shop on 22nd Street and then on 22 and Surf Ave. He did all the signs for Silver's Bath until he was, health wise, to close shop. As a kid, I remember delivering signs to the bathhouse and was taken on a tour, since I never knew what was their business. As far as I was concerned, people when there just to take a bath! Oh well, those days are long gone. By the way, I remember as a toddler being taken to the roof of the building on 29th and Surf Ave where we lived to see the "great fire of 1932". There was a Nunnery between 27 & 28 St near the Boardwalk. We saw the nuns gathered and praying, I assume for the fire to stop. Guess what? The fire stopped at 27th Street.

I was friends with his son Joseph Bonsignore and before it closed we would go their loved the saltwater baths.Fun days in Coney Island

My dad used to take me as a little kid to Silvers, in the early 60's...I remember it had a giant saltwater pool, high power hoses, wet and dry sauna, and lots of naked old men.. I also remember it had a restaurant upstairs..more of a cafeteria. Many fond memories.

As a youngster I treasured the opportunity to go to Silver's with my Grandfather. He came from Siberia and was quite devoted to visits to Silver's. I clearly remember the massage with brown soap and a seaweed mop. The icy cold, but small, swimming pool. The old men sitting on wooden lounges in the hellishly hot steam room. A man would come into the steam room with little paper cups of ice water on a tray for the men to sip. There was a pine scented steam room so hot that the men would sit on wooden benches near spigots of cold sea water which would be used to fill wooden buckets with the cold seawater and be dumped over their heads. There was a shower with the water coming from all directions. The food could have only appealed to a Russian. Borscht, Schav and hard salami. A barber shop would give "hair singes". That's a haircut where a dowel with a small flame at the tip would burn away whatever hair came up through the comb. When you left, you were cleaner than you had ever been before.

I was only 9 years old when I went with my father and uncle, to Silver's. It was a great place to hang out and get treated to rather exotic forms of "healthy" stimuli. The seaweed massages, the pressure hoses, with the cartoon sign that said,"Don't forget to cover the shmekle", and all the other spa stuff. I loved to go into the sauna and then jump into the ice cold pool, crazy memories. It's a real shame that those places don't, or can't exist anymore. Sixty years later, the memories are still fresh.

It's a place you can't describe to someone unless they have been. It was so special, and a real treat when we (my brother and I) got to go. The memories will never go away. I recently googled the address, and it's an empty lot. Such a shame.

My great grandfather on my mom’s side was Barne Silver who was the founder of Silver’s Baths (his name did not end in a “y”). This business did not pass down to his son, Harry Silver, who was my grandfather, so by the time I was born in 1965 it was long gone from the family.

Barne was my great grand father, too. I suppose we’re related. His daughter, Sadie, my grandmother.

Sadie had a sister, Dora. Her son, Howard, told me stories about working in the baths.

As a child, he was allowed to manage the gum ball machine concession.

He told me that Meyer Lansky gave him a $100 dollar bill for his bar mitzvah.

Would love to learn more if have anything else to share.

My husband was a great grand son of the founder of Silver’s baths Barney Silver I wish you had mentioned his name in the information

I too remember my father, uncles and Zeda (all immigrants fromEastern Poland) taking me to Silvers in the 50’s as a young teenager on weekends. My memories are similar to those already posted. My family had a certain order to the day. After checking in and stoing our clothes in a locker, covering ourselves with a sheet, we would head down to the baths. First was the dry heat room (somewhat like a sauna but white tiles lined). Then, as I was about to pass out I was taken to the small ice cold salt water pool to be revived. Then came a series of stem rooms. Salt steam, pine steam and sweet water steam. Another dunk in the ice pool and then a session in the room with the high power hoses sprayed on me with delight be my laughing uncles and grandfather. At the end of the process was a rubdown, called a plaitza, with short handled broom of leaves and twigs. This was apparently meant as either as a form of torture or deep cleanser. At this point I could hardly walk but my father said it was time for lunch in the cafeteria. Mostly Eastern European delights. Schmaltz herring, smoked fish and lots of rye or scotch whiskey. After lunch I would lay down on one of the lounges, covered myself with a sheet, while the old guys played pinochle or gin rummy. The memories are fresh and wonderful.

Would go once a month with my Dad and his 2 brothers. First time I was about 9. I loved everything about the place. Would walk around wearing a white sheet (towel) and we would eat at communal tables. Some of my best memories.

My mom was a daughter of Barne Silver lived in Seagate as a child and later married Henry Held who became a very talented lawyer

My grandmother, Dorothy Silver, was another daughter of Barne Silver and sister of Mildred. She later married Harry Kaplan. Robert - I was very young but remember hearing about your father. Did they use to call you Bobby?

I remember visiting Dora when she lived in Sherman oaks. She lived next to my grandmother, Sadie.

I am the daughter Harry Silver and the granddaughter to the original owners. I am the youngest living child. This brings back many memories my father told me about!

To Josh. I so remember Aunt Sadie. I also remember Bernie and Vera Berman as they lived up the street from us in Sherman Oaks. I also remember June and Jules and Carole and Holly.

My dad was the last owner of Silvers. It was an amazing experience that has allowed me to feel free and uninhibited and has made me realize the importance of massage and healthy environment. The ocean water is and has always been a big part of my healthy life.

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