Monday, June 10, 2013

Breaking Blood chapter 2 info on bathing and newspaper industry

First thing I wanted to mention was the bathing and hygiene of 1899 for the poorer individuals, particularly those that lived in the lower east side.

A lot of my information I got from this website:

The stuff in italics is directly from this source:

In the oldest and poorest tenements water had to be obtained from an outside pump, frequently frozen in winter. The privy was in the back yard. Later buildings generally had a sink and "water closet" in the hall on each floor. Newer and better class tenements had sinks in the kitchen. They were all "cold water". Water for washing dishes and clothes and for taking baths was heated on the stove.

A majority of tenements in the 1890s did not have indoor plumbing. In some tenements the only water came from a faucet in an unlit hallway and some tenements had only one faucet per building, supplying up to fifty tenants. Bathroom, when available, where most likely no more than one per floor and shared by several tenants. The common bath frequently did not include a tub or shower.

Tenement bathing usually took place in the kitchen in a dish pan, the sink, or a portable tub.

To make bathing available to the tenement dwellers, the city eventually built public baths.

The first public bath in Manhattan was opened on 326 Rivington Street in 1902 and in five months accommodated 224,876 bathers, about three times as many men as women.

In addition there were floating baths along the river. These were as much swimming pools as places to wash, thus combining recreation and public hygiene. The floating baths were a kind of wooden wharf enclosing a swimming pool that allowed the river water to flow through. In 1902 the floating baths were used by 5 or 6 million in the summer season.

As I looked at other websites, it seemed like floating baths were the most common way to wash their bodies.

Clothing was either washed at the river or in a co-operative wash room, and then would be hung out to dry on the lines strewn between more than one tenement. You’ve probably all seen pictures upon pictures of this time period of clothes hung out to dry, flapping in the breeze. That was the only way they had to deal with their laundry.

Now, onto the rich and how they lived. Contrast Edward’s lifestyle with our Isabella’s. Here’s what I learned:

By 1893 New York contained 700 "apartment" houses. Nearly all of them were equipped with "electrical and steam appliances." This included the passenger elevator which made the upper stories of these building more - instead of less desirable - as the top floors of walk up tenements were. The easily accessible top floor was far away from the dust and noise of the street and nearer a cooling summer breeze. However, most of New York's wealthy left the city to spend the summer at their county or beach houses.

Eclectric lighting was clean, odorless and constant. Steam heat was controlled by a thermostat enabling a constant temperature. The ordinary apartment consisted of seven to ten spacious rooms generally all on one level. Moreover, the wealthy had servants - maids, butlers, cooks and nursemaids - to take care of those nasty chores for them.

By 1900, telephones were in wide use, so it’s safe to say Edward owned one and used it, whereas Isabella, did not.

Now, for the newspaper industry, I already mentioned in chapter 1 author notes the New York Herald in 1899 was actually the biggest newspaper in circulation, not the Times, and the editor of one of the other major papers, the Evening Post, at that time was William Cullen Bryant. Odd that his middle name is Cullen, i’n it? Now you know which newspaper company she wound up going to. I have no idea if he was married or not, but for this story, he is. And he has his own reasons to hire Isabella, and give her 2 week’s worth of wages upfront.

Also, one other tidbit of info on the Evening Post, in 1916, editor George Horace Lorimer discovered Norman Rockwell, then an unknown 22-year-old New York artist. Lorimer bought two illustrations from Rockwell, using them as covers, and commissioned three more drawings. Rockwell's illustrations of the American family and rural life of a bygone era became icons. During his 50-year career with the Post, Rockwell painted more than 300 covers

I had no idea how this all started, and was surprised to find this out.

Hope this helps. I was surprised at how fascinating I found this time period in New York. Normally, I don’t gravitate to this area or age, but for this story, it simply worked and I was enthralled by what I learned along the way.

1 comment:

  1. That was really interesting! I read the whole article from your link, and I must say even though I thought I had an idea of what living in those times was like - there is No comparison to how bad it really was. We are so LUCKY and SPOILED!!


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