BetteBack 1975: The Baths Burn Down

North Adams Transcript
February 4, 1975

Hundreds of towel-clutching gay men fled into the frosty streets of New York City’s Upper West Side when the famed nightclub and spa, The Continental Baths, caught fire in the dim morning hours of January 16. Damage to the weird nightspot, which launched the career of Bette Midler a few years back, was estimated between $100,000 and $200,000.

Police said some 250 patrons were flushed out of the Baths into 27 degree weather and an additional 300 persons w e r e e v a c u a t ed from the Ansonia Hotel, where the Baths are located. Cops reported that all the Bath’s patrons “had something on– though some had just a towel.

“Because of the cold, refugees from the blazing Baths were permitted to regroup in the Ansonia’s lobby. The hotel was designated an historical site in 1972.

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