Washing & Bathing NYC-Style


The First Annual Report of the People's Washing and Bathing Association.New York: J.W. Harrison, MDCCCLIII. [1853]. Catalog Record | Enlarge Image | Adopt a Book Home

Indoor plumbing is taken for granted today, but must be considered one of the most transformative innovations for daily life in the modern world. The People's Washing and Bathing House, where the public could bathe or get their clothing washed, was the first establishment of its kind in this country. And according to all accounts, the streets of 1850s New York City were the right place to start the clean up. Issued in printed illustrated wrappers, the first report of the organization promoted its hair-dressing saloon in the basement and that there was a physician in attendance constantly. Wash-women signed in print their testimonial that “we can wash twice as much as at home in the same time.” Many prominent New Yorkers got on the bandwagon, as evinced by this copy inscribed with the regards of Elbridge Gerry, Jr. and the list of stockholders printed inside including Horace Greeley and even P.T. Barnum!

Adopted by William Wallace in honor of Matthew Shakespeare



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