Thursday, July 21, 2011
The North End Beach
North End beach, 1917.
The North End beach has been covered on other web sites, but it's just so cool I had to discuss it here. At the end of the 19th Century there was a push to build bath houses to provide a place for the working poor living in tenements (often without bathtubs) to clean themselves. Boston's bath houses will be the subject of another entry, but over time there was a shift to providing for exercise as well as cleaning facilities, and swimming pools and gymnasiums were constructed in large numbers.
Among the swimming facilities built were the shoreline bathhouses like the L Street Bath House in South Boston and the North End Beach, shown above. The North End beach sat in the middle of a working industrial marine district, and it didn't seem to bother anyone. The North End was Boston's first tenement slum, home to the Irish when they first arrived in large numbers during the Famine. By the time this facility was built, the Irish were gone, and Jews and Italians had taken their place. I doubt there was any water testing done at the time, and that's probably just as well.