City drinking fountains: their germ-magnet past

This 1913 photo shows a boy at a public water fountain in Madison Square Park; he’s drinking from a common cup attached to a chain. Of course, no one today would ever drink from the same cup thousands of strangers also put their lips on. But back then, in pre-germ-awareness times, not everyone realized how unsanitary it was.

Yet public health experts were beginning to realize that the shared cup was a big disease transfer method and had to be eliminated. In 1911, city officials announced that they were changing all the school drinking fountains so that a common cup wasn’t required. Communal cups were eventually banned in all public fountains. 

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3 Responses to “City drinking fountains: their germ-magnet past”

  1. Quid plura? | "I must admit, altho' I don't like Sunday..." Says:

    […] friend at Ephemeral in New York shows you old-timey drinking fountains, Bay Ridge a century ago, and one massive christening […]

  2. Lovely fountains for city horses and other animals « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] At the back is a drinking fountain meant for humans (no spout; it might be the kind that had a communal metal cup attached to it that everyone had to share!) […]

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