Living without a shower

Until well into the 19th century only the elite used (private) bathhouses. In order to improve public health, from the end of the 19th century the common folk were allowed to bathe in public baths. The bathhouse was a welcome addition to the Diamantbuurt (neighbourhood), which was expanded between 1920 and 1930 with a considerable number of homes that did not have showers. For a long time it was busy, particularly on Saturdays, when people took their weekly bath. Taking a bath or shower more often was still too expensive in those days.

 

The bathhouse on the Diamantstraat, 1926.

Design mark three

This bathhouse was the third to be built in the series of circular municipal baths in Amsterdam. The design is by Arend Jan Westerman. This architect worked at Amsterdam City Council’s Public Works Department from 1914 to 1921. Only the first bathhouse was completed during his appointment. For that reason, the two later bathhouses, including this one in the Diamantbuurt, are also attributed to another architect.

 

Interior of the bathhouse, 1985.

Public function

Due to the fact that the baths were open to the public, they became an important meeting place for the local community. During the Second World War, the German occupiers forbade use of the baths by Jewish local residents. The bathhouse retained its function until well after the war. Not until the 1980s, when homes in the Diamantbuurt finally got showers, was the bathhouse closed. As yet, no new function (public or otherwise) has been found for it.

 

View of the bathhouse boiler room, 1985.