Anna Erickson likes to walk around her Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen. What happened to the other bathhouses? Spoiler alert: These are now extinct in Chicago, except for facades here and there. The city built the bathhouse in so that neighborhood residents could get clean.
Gay bathhouses were barely surviving. And then came COVID-19.
Chicago Bathhouses & Sex Clubs - GayCities Chicago
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Chicago Gay Bathhouses
This private club has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, days a year, closing only on Christmas Eve, according to owner Ron Ehemann. Clark St. Ehemann said much of the complex will be demolished to make way for condominiums in a new building to be called The Renslow, a reference to Chuck Renslow, the LGBTQ businessman and gay rights pioneer who started the bathhouse in a former fraternal lodge. Ehemann said one part of the complex will remain: Full Kit Gear at N. It was everything.
On its exterior, Steamworks is rather unremarkable. It looks more like an armory or a warehouse than anything else. And having, you know, a lot of sex is awesome. But, there was always this concurrent side that was just as important, especially in the 60s and 70s, as bathhouses emerged and became popular. You know, even just meeting with your friends to hang out and chat was dangerous in this country.