December 12, 2013

An Unintended Consequence of Prohibition

[May 2, 1919] -

What Will Replace the Saloon?

The advent of Prohibition strongly emphasizes one of the great public needs of today--adequate toilet facilities, or comfort stations, as they are generally called, says "Building Age."

What will replace the saloon, that Mecca which has often been sought under the spur of necessity?  Surely some accommodations must replace it.  Male citizens, both of large cities and small towns, have relied upon it, often buying a beer for no other reason than to make use of the facilities that the saloon affords.

Office buildings will in many instances be called upon to make good the lack.  Yet managers of such buildings are showing an increasing tendency to restrict to tenants the use of facilities of buildings under their charge.

Citizens of small town will have to depend on railway stations, where the key is frequently in charge of an agent who only hands it out to those possessing a ticket.  Small towns are notoriously slack in providing accommodations for strangers.

Comfort stations should at least be one to the square mile in larger cities, while in small towns one should be placed at the intersection of the main streets; this is the minimum.  Such comfort stations need not be unsightly, but may be architecturally attractive.  They may be placed underground, being lighted from above by sidewalk lights.  If a proper ventilating system is installed and the stations kept clean this type will prove satisfactory.

London has made good provision for her citizens, her comfort stations being mostly underground.  Clean and well kept, they afford marked contrast to the many places here, which are malodorous and unsanitary in the extreme.

In many European cities the back of a store is utilized, the front being rented as shops, thus bringing in a profit to the town.

Much of a town's prosperity is gained from travelers, either resident or transient.  Their importance in the local scheme is more than sufficient to warrant attention being paid to their comfort.

Comfort stations, although designed primarily for the convenience of citizens and therefore necessarily being free, may yet have pay closets for those who desire additional sanitary conveniences, on the scheme followed in the terminals of many railroads.  Such revenue will go far toward meeting the expenses of upkeep and attendants to keep the place in proper condition.

Now that the need for comfort stations will be emphasized more than ever before, it behooves municipalities to devote some attention to this matter.  [1]


[1] "What Will Replace the Saloon?" Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. May 2, 1919. Page 4.

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