Architectural trends evolved a lot over the years. They reflected cultural norms and legal requirements. To an extent, people made it work. No one thought anything of it. Above all, they had to have this anyway. So, if you see a New York apartment from the 1900s with a bathtub in the kitchen, don’t be too surprised.
For some time, such a feature felt entirely normal to residents. It allowed apartments to meet legislative requirements. Those laws pushed clean living. Recent listings helped the kitchen bathtub gain attention. Naturally, people today expressed bemusement. But look at media and this infamous feature becomes visible.
Most importantly, kitchen bathtubs served multiple purposes
Hygiene habits have come a long way. Modern Americans would blanch hearing how people lived during the French Revolution. But unpleasant conditions can be spotted in many New York apartments during the end of the 1800s and start of the 1900s. New York Post lists the East Village and Lower East Side as harboring clusters of some revolutionary apartments.
Decades past, these areas experienced poor hygiene. Jason Eisner, an educator manager with the Tenement Museum, explains the conditions. People got water where they could, carried it from the outside up their stairs, and did laundry in the backyard. 1901 saw the New York Tenement House Act introduced. By 1905, it offered thorough regulations over water, lighting, and plumbing. Ultimately, it brought on a toilet for every two families, a mandatory sink, and a mandatory tub.
Their meaning didn’t go down the drain
True to form, New Yorkers made the legislative demands work. Even though they lived in small apartments, they found space in the layout…in the kitchen. Eisner elaborates, “The tub in the kitchen is a reminder that we live in a city that has a living history.” The city’s very places of residence had to change and adapt to meet hygienic needs.
Back then, kitchen bathtubs stood as a necessary feature. As the years went on, right to today, they came to stand as peculiar talking points. They appeared in movies such as Married to the Mob (1988). They also attracted fun questions at parties, like those of Noah Fecks and Adam Aleksander. Both of them took advantage of having a large relaxation vessel right in their kitchen with easy access to food and even a television. Did you ever live anywhere with this old layout? If you need to relocate where you bathe, be sure to pick up a few tricks to get the job done nice and dry!