Civil War Philadelphia: Baths?

Filling the bathtub from the pump is time consuming and back-breaking.  From the well, even worse.  In 1864, where did water come from?

Did Civil War Yankees have tap-water at home, or not?

Yes, but finding this information was ridiculously time consuming. *grumble* TOO much time for something that might be just a paragraph or two….

Well-water was too closely related to the plague, so modern engineering to the rescue!

Someone tell these people that the Romans had piped water, too.

At least Philadelphia used wooden pipes, not lead, which would gently poison their citizens one cup of water at a time.

11 Centralized Water Supply

In the late 1700s and into the early 1800s, yellow fever swept through the city, killing thousands. We know now that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, but panic-stricken people blamed the disease on polluted drinking water and filth in the streets [3]. Privies and cesspools located near wells fouled water supplies and residents pressured the city to provide clean water for drinking, firefighting, and street washing. In 1799, several hundred citizens of the young city signed a petition to ask “the city Councils to seek a new source of water” [4]. In response, Philadelphia convened a “Watering Committee” and became the first major city in the world to shoulder the responsibility of supplying public water to its residents [3]. Shortly after, Philadelphia undertook the enormous challenge of building a centralized water distribution system. By 1801, a steam engine pumped water from the Schuylkill River to an elevated height and the water flowed by gravity through a brick conduit to Centre Square. Two wooden reservoirs atop a building stored the water, which then flowed through a distribution chest to wooden pipes and then to hydrants and buildings throughout the city. The new centralized water distribution system was one of the first in the United States, and it set an engineering precedent. This important breakthrough was the direct result of perceived threats to public health, and the tremendous political pressure concerned citizens exerted on city government.

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