BootLeg Betty

Video: The Ansonia

As part of their Eminent Domains series on New York City landmarks, Vanity Fair opens with a look at the legendary Ansonia, once the home of the Continental Baths, where Bette Midler and Barry Manilow got their starts.

A grand hotel in the middle of nowhere, it was home to opera stars and Broadway impresarios, as well as composers, writers, and baseball players. When they moved on, a gay bathhouse and, later, a swingers’ club moved in. You can’t tell by looking at it now—what with all the strollers and Baby Bjorns—but the Ansonia has one hell of a story to tell.

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