Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fountain City

From the May 1913 issue of Public Service Magazine, Menasha is prominently featured for its new-fangled drinking fountains, or "bubblers."  While we're now used to Federal Government regulation, in the first half of the 20th century water supply and sanitation were a local government responsibility with regulation at the state level; the federal government played almost no role at that time. Still, communities across the US began to take the idea of safe, palatable drinking water very seriously.  After the discovery that water could spread diseases, the conclusion was drawn that good taste and smell alone does not guarantee safe drinking water. It led governments to begin municipal water filtration. Because of the growing amount of water treatment facilities around the world, outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid rapidly decreased in the early twentieth century. However, water fountains still contained communal "cups."  Training a stream of water into one's mouth must have been considered vulgar!  See below:
I would love to tell you where these fountains were installed around Menasha, beyond the "city park," but I have yet to find photographic evidence beyond the magazine photo above. 

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