In the early 1800s growing cities in the Northeast and Midwest were desperate to end the practice of letting disease-carrying raw sewage run down their streets. The deplorable conditions and horrid odor took the charm out of life in a bustling city. Also, firefighters needed an easily accessible water supply to combat blazes in the mostly wooden structures.
The First Plumbing Systems in the U.S.
The first sewer pipes in the U.S. were made from hollowed out logs. However, with the advent of steam-powered water pumps, the pressure rose too high for wooden pipes and new materials were necessary. The history of plumbing in America really begins in 1804 Philadelphia; the first city in the world to use cast iron pipes for its water and sewage system, and the first in the U.S. to build a citywide water works. In 1869, Chicago unveiled a feat of water and sewer engineering that surpassed that of Philadelphia’s and was news around the world.
Indoor Plumbing Comes to America
Rural areas remained far behind their developed counterparts and many did not get running water, through the use of hand pumps, until the 1950s or 60s. For a lot of communities, this was 20 years after they had received electricity. The White House did not get running water until 1833, and even then, it was only available on the main floor. In 1829, the swanky Tremont hotel in Boston was the first hotel to have indoor plumbing. This captured the nation’s imagination, and the wealthy began to covet such outrageous luxuries.
According to the Plumber.com’s in-depth history of plumbing in America, the U.S. would go on to create standards and issue regulations for health and safety in plumbing and sewage that still lead the world. If your old wooden pipes are giving you problems, contact us.