By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
It might be best to leave your surfboard at home. Tucked cozily between Fort Hamilton and Gravesend, this once bustling seaside getaway for wealthy Manhattanites is now a sleepy middle-class residential locale with decaying mansions and a deserted promenade. Old boys puff cigars and shuffle cards on street corners; wispy sea breezes rouse wind chimes that tinkle behind the gleeful shouts of children at play. Long forgotten are the days when this neighborhoodnamed after the English spa of Bathwas home to numerous luxury resorts. Those with the nerve to brave the Coney Island waters will find it nearly impossible to negotiate Bath's craggy shoreline. However, this area can offer welcome relief from the typical cosmopolitan whirlwind, with its relaxed tone more akin to an Italian coastal village than a busy section of the Big Apple.
Boundaries: 86th Street to the north, Bay Parkway to the east, Gravesend Bay to the south, and 14th Avenue to the west. There's an ideal view of the Verrazano Bridge as it lunges toward Staten Island from the promenade along the water; looking south one can see the Coney Island lighthouse standing guard at the island's cusp. Portions of this article have been updated.
Population: Italian and Irish flags fly outside many of the snug red-brick townhouses that line the majority of Bath's blocks. Like those living in Bensonhurst and Dyker Beach, Bath residents are known for their neighborhood loyalty, perhaps not much of a surprise considering Bath and Cropsey avenues used to be home to some of New York's most notorious mobsters, including members of the Gambino crime family. A faint but distinct mafioso flavor still lingers despite an increase in diversity over the past 10 years, which have seen Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani cultures make their marks.
Main Drags: Bustling Bath Avenue, dotted with eateries and small businesses, has significantly changed with the influx of different cultures in recent years. A longtime resident of Bath Beach nostalgically points to the street from his stool at a local dive: "It's where the boys used to hang. Across the streetthat used to be a rum mill, now it's a mosque."
Public Transportation: Take the R train to the 86th Street stop. From there it's best to take the B64 bus one stop to 86th Street and Bath Avenue; approximately an hour to Union Square. Unfortunately, decaying subway stations and cramped buses are sources of frustration for many residents.
Average Price to Rent:Studio, $750 ($500 to $800); one-bedroom, $850 to $1000 ($700 to $1,100); two-bedroom, $1000 to $1100 and up ($1,200 and up.)
Average Price to Buy: Studio condo, $300,000 and up ($55,000 and up); one-bedroom condo, $350,000 to $375,000 ($90,000 and up); two-bedroom condo, $400,000 to $600,000 ($200,000 and up).
Happenings: The Nellie Bly Amusement Park (1824 Shore Parkway) has reopened for the summer months. Situated along the water, its runtish Ferris wheel and rattletrap thrill-rides are as lousy as Coney Island's, if that is possible.
Restaurants: Not for light wallets, Villa Paradiso (1969 Bath Avenue) "has reason to brag" about its penne alla vodka, according to Vince, a Bath local of 15 years. Don't sleep on Pino's Pizzeria (2025 Bath Avenue), Bath's hailed greasy spoon, either.
Best Bar: During the sun's hours gulp suds with the neighborhood blue-collars (mostly firemen and policemen) who shoot the breeze over pints at the Goal Post (1752 Bath Avenue), where you can expect to find a younger, high-energy crowd on late nights and weekends.
Community Organizations: The United Regular Democratic Organization (29 Bay 25th Street), a political club, offers membership to party supporters and helps organize rallies and conventions for local political candidates.
Green Space: Bath Beach Park is one of the few places in New York where finding a pickup cricket game is almost guaranteed if the weather is nice. The question is, who's looking for a pickup cricket game? The Oceanview Tennis Center (9000 Bay Parkway) has indoor courts available in the winter for a fee. The bubble is taken down on April 25, and after that, like at any public tennis court in New York, a permit is needed to play.
Crime Stats: The 62nd Precinct serves Bath Beach, Gravesend, and Bensonhurst. As of September 25, 2005 it reported 0 murders, 9 rapes, 174 robberies, 151 felonious assaults, and 371 burglaries. (As of May 4, it reported no murders, down one from last year; two rapes, down two; 74 robberies, down two; 38 felonious assaults, up eight; and 180 burglaries, down 53).