Sunday, July 31, 2011

Free Bathing in Brooklyn

Long story short, to keep people cool (and hygienic!) they allowed free bathing around Brooklyn. Bathing on Coney Island was something few could afford, a fact which gives a bit of a socialist bent to the end of the story...

City News & Gossip

KEEP COOL.--Among the proceedings of the Common Council the other evening, was the adoption of a resolution offered by Ald. Church, making the waters around Brooklyn and in the bay free to bathers, using the proper habiliments. This is a good move. Next to the eleventh commandment of minding your own business, or perhaps before it, cleanliness is a virtue that should be encouraged. And not only for the sake of individual comfort, but--in these days of epidemical disease--for that of the public good. Now, this measure will afford every facility for an occasional plunge into the briny sea, and therefore we hail it, as an additional inducement to the attainment and cultivation of this virtue.

Besides, it brings the advantages of the fashionable watering places on the sea shore to the doors of our community--less the expense. Notwithstanding the number and proximity of these summer resorts, there are many of our citizens whose business will not allow them to be absent from the city even in the season of the dog-star. In fact, those who can afford this indulgence are among the favored few ; the visits of the many to such places as Coney Island, must be rare and of brief duration. This is the hard necessity of the world, which confronts us daily in a thousand aspects, and which we must meet and combat. If our will were consulted, this condition of things would not continue. Every man should have sufficient leisure to refresh mind and body, weary from the ever recurring requirements of life. There would be neither over grown wealth in the world, nor starving poverty ; but "the good time coming" should be realized forthwith. If they cannot be, at least for the present, if we all can't avail ourselves of the simple enjoyments afforded by a country excursion, but must stick at our respective desks and workshops, so be it. But let the working-man have the chance, if possible, of preserving his physical energy so as to withstand this necessity for its continual exertion. Let there be in all our crowded cities free baths, or the facility for bathing without expense. Frequent immersion will contribute above all other prescriptions to a "sound mind in a sound body," and after all, in this world the essential requisites are health and a clear conscience.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, July 11, 1850

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