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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • EAT MORE FISH, 1917

Coat Check: 1909

Coat Check: 1909

New York municipal lodging house circa 1909. "Fumigating clothing." From the New York Times: "There is a basement and subbasement, the latter containing the boiler and batteries for lighting and heating. The basement contains the shower baths for men and the steam and formaldehyde cleansers, the laundry, and the vacuum sweeping apparatus. ... All applicants for accommodations will be forced to undress before going to their rooms, which they will enter after they have taken a bath and their clothes have been thoroughly fumigated. The arrangements for the latter are most novel. The clothes are placed in small crates or boxes, which are then wheeled into large steam and formaldehyde retorts. When they are finally taken from their place before the men and women to which they belong are ready to leave the house in the morning, they are entirely cleaned." 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

Lice

Amazing setup. I think the fumigation was to kill the lice in their clothes. Typhus was a serious problem back then, as well as other louse borne diseases.

Lodging House

So, reading the NY Times article carefully, you would: petition to spend the night, wash up vigorously, then leave your clothing in the basement while you join the other exclusive guests. In the morning, men and women exit the boarding house looking crisp and dapper. Sounds like a pretty wild place...
Seriously, what DID they wear?

[A nice Department of Public Charities nightshirt. - Dave]

Scary scenario

I don't think you could present anyone with a plan like that today.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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