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philanthropy has stepped in and demonstrated the practicability of what might have been considered doubtful. The first public bath, open the year round for a hot or cold water bath, at a fixed fee, was opened in 1891, in Center Market Place, New York City, in an industrial quarter. There are only 27 sprays and three tubs; the fee is five cents, entitling the bather to two towels, soap and the use of the compartment for twenty minutes. As a proof that there is a popular demand for cleansing baths, since the People's Baths were opened August 17th, 1891, 434,146 baths have been taken, more than 90 per cent having been paid for. For the months of January, February and March, 1897, there were 4,924, 4,890 and 6,232, an increase over the corresponding months in 1896 of 619, 771 and 960 respectively. There is a debit balance to the baths for the Association each year, but if the establishment were twice the size it would be more than self-supporting. The De Milt Dispensary, the Baron de Hirsch Fund and the Riverside Association also operate spray baths, on the same general lines. Now that these philanthropies have demonstrated the need and the demand for cleansing baths, they have done their duty and the city should undertake that work, which is clearly a municipal function.
The legislation secured by Goodwin Brown was more general than local, although individual cities could act under its permissive authority. In 1895, however, a movement was started, whereby local authority was given to the city of New York to erect and maintain public baths. The famous election of 1894 was won by the Committee of Seventy, not alone on account of their fierce attack on Tammany Hall, but because they promised those who supported them a positive municipal program. The Seventy said, if you will vote for our candidates, we will promise you small parks, clean streets, baths, rapid transit, public comfort stations and civil service. This was a big contract, particularly as no workable knowledge existed concerning some of these measures, hence the Seventy said after election, that they would appoint sub-committees to study and report the best methods for carrying out the ante-election pledges, which the voters had ratified. A Sub-Committee on Baths and
Lavatories was formed under the chairmanship of Wm. Gaston Hamilton, a vice-president of the New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and chairman of the committee that built the famous People's Baths. The vice-chairman of the sub-committee was Dr. Moreau Morris, a veteran in the health department, and the secretary of the Tenement House Commission of 1884, who brought to the bath group a minute sanitary knowledge of the city, as well as an experience ripened in actual contact with official business. The work of this committee was particularly fascinating, because no body of literature existed, except the most fragmentary reports and pamphlets. From the outset, this committee contemplated the collection and arrangement of the world's best experience, in order that New York might have the basis for immediate action, when the report should be made. Mayors and other public officials responded with so much valuable information, that the preparation of the document was largely the work of exclusion. In the course of time, the Committee of Seventy came to an end, and accordingly the sub-committee also terminated its existence. Mayor Strong was unwilling that the work of the bath group should be fruitless, so he wrote them to ask if they would continue their studies under the designation of the Mayor's Committee. In July, 1895, they re-organized under that title, but their status was merely advisory, and it should be a matter of humiliation to the city authorities that the Mayor's Committee of the City of New York was compelled to raise by private subscription the necessary money for the publication of its report, which has now been issued in a volume of several hundred pages. Based on its study of the experience of the most successful baths, the Mayor's Committee urges the following recommendations :
That the spray or rain water system of baths be adopted, because, primarily, there is no waste of water; and, in the second place, the cost of erection is very moderate; and lastly, it is characterized by cleanliness and simplicity.
Bath-houses at a moderate cost should be erected in close proximity to those requiring them, rather than the erection
of two or three great bathing institutions costing large sums of money.
That the bath-houses should contain proper and requisite divisions for the use of the cleanly and of those not clean; and that each should contain some system for fumigating clothes when necessary.
That such public schools, where it may be practicable, should be equipped in the basement with baths, with requisite divisions for men and women. This can be done at a very small outlay, because the boilers already in use for heating the building, will usually suffice to heat the water for an 800-gallon tank. These baths could be used by the women during the school hours, and by the school children after the school hours and on Saturdays, and would in no way interfere with the usefulness of the school building.
That in the tenement-house districts public wash-houses be opened in connection with the baths, thereby relieving many homes of one and two rooms of the unhealthy conditions of laundry work.
That a certain part of each bath should be free, in order that necessitous cases may be relieved; for the remaining part, a fee should be charged, which sum will contribute towards the operating expenses, and will enable the patrons of the establishment to retain their self-respect.
That the baths shall be in charge of a sufficient number of paid attendants.
That the baths should be under the jurisdiction of the Health Department, under a department to be known as the Bureau of Public Comfort.
In England and on the Continent the opening of public bath and wash-houses is always an event of civic pride and importance. The latest, hence the most complete, are those at Marylebone, dedicated March 16, 1897, by the Duke and Duchess of York. The band of the parochial schools furnished the music and the Fifth Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps formed the guard of honor, while the Duke and Duchess were received by Members of Parliament, London County Councillors, the Chairman of the Bath Commissioners and his associates. An escort, composed of the builder, the
surveyor, the architect, the clerk to the commissioners, the commissioners and the rector of the parish, conducted their Royal Highnesses to the Board room.
This latest bath will be described briefly, because typical of the best modern establishments. The first bath in Marylebone was erected in 1844, a large sum being raised by subscription to build an establishment which might serve as a model for others. When opened it contained 40 baths. The Vestry of Marylebone has the honor to have been the first public body in England to have adopted the Public Bath and Wash-House Act in 1847. The site was almost in the country. The old establishment, after having been in daily use for nearly fifty years, was torn down, to make way for a modern structure. During that period 7,655,694 bathers patronized the establishment, and more than 4,600,000 paid either two or four cents for their baths. The number of women availing themselves of the laundry during the same period was 1,281,295. It will be noted that it is the English as well as the Continental practice to charge a fee for the use of the baths. It is fitting that the municipality should provide the establishment, but those using it should pay for that privilege.
The entire plan comprises four swimming and 101 private baths, as well as a public wash-house and laundry, with accommodations for 74 women. The first-class swimming bath is 100 feet in length, with a capacity of 83,000 gallons. A large club room is provided at one end, which is specially adapted for the use of public school children, regimental and other swimming clubs.
In accordance with the custom so prevalent in English baths, arrangements are made so that this bath can be floored over, to be converted into a public gymnasium during the winter months. A small fee for its use yields a revenue. The second-class bath is 70 feet in length, and the third-class 66 feet. The charges are respectively six and two cents. This third-class swimming bath is the only one in London providing soap and shower baths at a minimum see of two cents.
It was the particular object of the commissioners of this
parish that the poorer classes should have opportunity for bathing in baths as bright and cheerful as any of those for which more expensive charges are made. Recognizing the increased popularity of athletics among women, a swimming bath with the capacity of 44,000 gallons is provided for them. Glazed and decorated tiles lend an artistic harmony to the whole bath. Of the private baths there are 21 first-class, 48 second for men; 10 first-class and 19 second for women. The vapor bath rooms are private, with shower, needle, spray and sitz baths, at a uniform charge of one shilling, so that these conveniences are practically within the reach of everyone.
The public laundry is 76x64 feet, divided into the washhouse proper, the drying, iron and mangling rooms. The wash-house has 74 compartments, each containing two washtubs, with hot and cold water, steam supply and the necessary appliances of pails and scrubbing boards. Four centrifugal wringing machines, making 1,200 revolutions a minute, dry each lot of clothes in three minutes. The drying-room has 74 drying horses, heated by the air driven in from the furnaces in the basement. The ironing room is equipped with two steam driven mangles, ironing tables and radial drying horses. The convenience of the laundry has been provided for the exclusive use of the wage-earners, at the low fee of three cents an hour.
Of course the establishment is equipped with a laundry for its own use and contains rooms for Board meetings, Superintendent's offices and the conventional waiting rooms and halls. As the swimming baths are emptied every night during the summer months, and refilled in the early morning, the unsanitary features of the swimming bath are minimized, and, in addition, the fact that nearly 250,000 gallons of water flow into the sewers, is a direct benefit to that branch of the public service.
The majority of the large bathing establishments combine the wash-house or laundry. Deptford has under the same roof its baths, wash-houses and municipal buildings, while Shoreditch has the public library in combination with the baths. This combination effects a great saving in the initial cost as well as in the operating expenses.