CHICAGO Russian and Turkish Baths is a traditional Russian-style bathhouse at 1914 W. Division Street in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, which has operated since 1906. The recent change in ownership in 2011 and complete renovation of the facility now provides for all original services and more. Careful modernization of the facility was taken with understanding of all traditional values and current spa amenities. We also added a full bar, restaurant, tanning, scrub and other salon services.
The most popular feature at Chicago Bath House is the traditional Russian Banya, Schvitz, or hot room. Each of these rooms have a brick or granite ovens in which boulders, approximately the size of watermelons, are heated to extreme temperatures by gas jets; hot water is then thrown on the rocks by the customers as desired. When this happens, the water instantly evaporates, creating steam inside the oven and heating the brick enclosure, thereby raising the air temperature in the room. This method provides a much dryer heat than common steam rooms, but not as dry as traditional Finnish saunas. The bathers sit or lay on three-level tiered cedar benches, which allow for dramatically different temperatures at the various heights. Cold water is provided by taps located under the benches. When overwhelmed by the heat, a bather may dump a bucket of frigid water over his head while still in the hot room, or may step outside to use the cold pool.
Several attendants are usually on hand in the hot rooms to give a plaitza or “rub” a scrubbing with a handheld birch broom or a bundle of leafy oak twigs. The customer receiving this will lay naked on a sheet, usually with a towel over his face, and be scrubbed thoroughly, front and back, then doused with cold water to remove the soap. After spending time in the lower level of the bath house, customers are invited to try traditional Russian cuisine. Our menu is designed to help celebrate birthday parties, gatherings and other events with family style dinners. All customers receive special attention in our resort style atmosphere. Chicago Bath House is the oldest and only traditional bathhouse remaining in Chicago, and one of only a handful in the United States. Come and join us!!