Public Bath House

133 Allen St

Public Bath House

Local de Interesse CulturalCentro Comunitário

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Bath houses were not invented for tenement dwellers; they were first established in the City during colonial times. As more and more residents came to enjoy indoor plumbing, those who had to resort to bath houses were mostly poor people. By the mid-19th century, the City was crammed with the poor.

The bath houses were divided by sex. Patrons received a clean towel, some soap, and twenty minutes under a hot shower for 2-5 cents.

The public bath house movement began 1849 with the founding of the country’s first public bath on Mott Street. The People’s Bathing and Washing Association was a philanthropic organization intent on providing individuals within New York City's poor, largely immigrant neighborhoods, with bathing inexpensive bathing facilities. In 1868, legislation was passed placing reponsibility of the public bath houses in the hands of the government. As a result, bath houses sprouted up throughout New York City's East and West Villages around the turn of the century.

By 1889, with the urging of Dr. Simon Baruch and the Board of Health, New York City elected officials to assume responsibility
for the establishment of public bathing facilities. Public bath houses remained extremely popular throughout the turn of the century, but dwindled in use as more apartments were equipt with indoor plumbing facilities.


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