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June 1, 1930: Fire destroys one of Buffalo's curious public bathhouses

In 1897, Buffalo became the first city in the world to offer free public baths and free public laundries to its residents. It was considered a matter of public health, and many took advantage of the bathing beaches at the foot of Michigan Street and the foot of Tifft Street, and at bath and laundry houses on Terrace Street and at the corner of Woltz and Stanislaus. The free bath included a piece of soap, the use of a towel, and all the hot and cold water that could be used in 20 minutes. Bathers were also offered the chance to wash their undergarments before bathing.

In 1918, more than 100,000 baths were taken at the public facilities, but by 1930, times had changed.

Pollution of the water people were bathing in was becoming a larger issue as more and more people had access to bathing facilities in their own homes.

When the bathhouse at the foot of Tifft Street burned to the ground, it wasn’t replaced.

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