Bath Beach Park
Bath Beach Park
This park is named for the surrounding neighborhood of Bath Beach, once a fashionable retreat for Manhattan’s elite, and later a suburban area developed by real estate investors.
In 1862 the Brooklyn, Bath, and Coney Island Line connected this region with Manhattan, prompting its transformation from a sleepy farming community into a weekend outpost for New York City high society. Throughout New York’s Gilded Age, the shoreline of Bath Beach boasted yacht clubs, villas, and the famous Captain’s Pier Restaurant at the base of 19th Avenue. Bath Beach also had the Bath House resort, opened by Doctors Barley, Rogers, Tillery, and Bard in the late 18th century near Gravesend Bay, a popular destination for convalescents.
In the 1880s, real estate magnate James Lynch bought 350 acres of farmland from the Benson family and incorporated it into his planned suburb of Bensonhurst-by-the-Sea. Present-day Bath Beach encompasses the southern half of this village; the area north of 86th Street lies within the present-day neighborhood of Bensonhurst. Bath Beach stretches north from Gravesend Bay to 86th Street and east from 14th Avenue to Bay Parkway. Bath Beach Playground stands on Shore Parkway and 17th Avenue, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Parks acquired the site in 1937, but most of the site’s features are the result of a large scale rehabilitation completed in 1984 with the assistance of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association. Later improvements brought modular play equipment with safety surfacing, new chess tables, cast iron water fountains with wheelchair accessibility, and circular tree pits. An oceanic theme was designed into the reconstruction, with new crab animal-art spray shower and dolphin and seahorse spring toys. Bath Beach Playground includes community gardens on either side of the 17th Court entrance to the park.
In 2001, the walkway in the center of the park was named after Joseph Pezzuto, (1937-1999), a lifelong Brooklyn resident, founder of the Bath Beach Community Improvement Association and former head of the Bath Avenue Merchants Association. In his role as a civic leader, Pezzuto organized public events in the park in partnership between his organizations and the Parks Department. The walkway follows the line of 17th Avenue through the park towards Shore Parkway and separates the playground area from the softball field and basketball and handball courts.
Another local civic leader honored in this park is Victor V. Allegretti (1931-2003), President of the Bayside Fuel Corporation, former American Legion County Commander, and dedicated member of the Bensonhurst community. Victor and his younger brother Alfred worked to turn their father’s one-truck oil delivery company into one of the biggest fuel distributors on the East Coast. In addition, Allegretti raised a family and gave back to his community though his involvement with the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, and Community Board 11. The ballfield was named after Allegretti in 2004.