Independence Day – Plumbing Timeline
Independence Day, commonly referred to as the Fourth of July, celebrates the adoption of the Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. On the 238th birthday of the United States, here is a timeline of plumbing advancements here in America and all over the world. As we celebrate our independence, we can also celebrate how far we’ve come in the world of plumbing.
Up until the first water closet in 1596, most “toilets” were merely platforms built above the ground with holes in them. Some were made out of mud or clay and others were made out of wood or stone. The first sewers were built in Rome in 800 B.C.
Showers were typically just pots or buckets of water poured over one’s head.
Toilet paper is traced back to China during medieval times although early Americans used catalog or newspaper pages instead.
Then in 1596, Sir John Harington built the first modern “water closet” for his godmother, Queen Elizabeth. It included a seat, a bowl and a cistern of water behind it. In 1775, just before our first Independence Day, Englishman Alexander Cummings invented a prototype for the modern toilet. He solved the odor problem from Sir Harington’s model by putting standing water in the bowl.
The next major advancement wasn’t until 1829 when the Tremont Hotel in Boston became the world’s first hotel to have indoor plumbing. From there, America pioneered the idea of sanitary plumbing when the New York Metropolitan Board of Health started studying drainage, sewage, water supply and waste disposal. Not long after, Chicago gained the first comprehensive sewer system in the country.
One of the most notable and notorious advancements was in about 1915 when Thomas Crapper & Co. started producing toilets in Europe more similar to what we have today. American plumbers noticed the stamp on the toilets, which is how the term “crapper” entered the American language.
In the time since, plumbing has become more convenient and more sanitary to the point that many of us take it for granted. Let’s celebrate all the ways that modern plumbing makes our lives easier in this amazing country we live in, today and every day.
If you are in need of a plumbing inspection or maintenance, call Ben Franklin Plumbing AZ. (602) 903-1762