Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- March 30, 1866Chicago Needs a Swimming School and a Public Bath (Editorial)
The meeting to discuss Chicago's need for a swimming school and public bath, which was to have been held last Saturday in Room 5 of the Courthouse, had to be postponed until next Saturday, March 31, (tomorrow), because so few people appeared at Saturday's meeting.
The indifference of the German public toward useful institutions in general has become proverbial, and if we view our social conditions more closely, we can readily explain this apathy toward a matter which is so important to the comfort, health, and progress of our citizens.
With the exception of our Turnhalle, we Germans have no other building devoted to the cultivation of art and science--at least no building of which we need not be ashamed--and in this respect some small country towns are far more 2progressive than ours. Milwaukee has magnificent school buildings in which German teachers are employed; it has two good theatres, a fine park, a swimming school, and splendid hotels--all built and maintained by Germans.
Why must Chicago be without these public institutions which are indispensable to the residents of a large city?
There is no lack of money, nor of a desire to participate in enterprises which benefit the community; but our people have not the necessary time to devote to a successful undertaking. I was literally "swamped" with questions concerning the action taken in the meeting with reference to a swimming school, and everybody regretted that nothing had been done.
"I think it would be too bad if nothing came of it, for a swimming school is so pleasant, so convenient, so necessary to health;" and "I shall be happy to do my part," were some of the remarks made to me--and yet nobody came to the meeting. After leaving the Courthouse at eight o'clock, I visited the 3nearby saloons. There I found meetings galore and an "abundance of time". I would not have said anything about building a swimming school; but many asked that I express myself on the subject, since very few persons have clear and definite ideas on the matter and few, therefore, have made an effort to co-operate. That is not a valid reason to remain away from the meeting, for the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the matter, to inform, to exchange ideas. Now I do not consider my opinions to be decisive. I merely wished to introduce the matter and to contribute my mite to the success of the good cause, just as anyone else would have done; and I ask the kind reader to weigh my opinions in that spirit.
I would build the swimming school and public bath after the pattern of the "Diana Bath" at Vienna, Austria. This structure is a hall 250 feet long and 150 feet wide. The roof is arched, the framework is of steel and the ceiling is of glass. The pool is about 200 feet long and 100 feet wide; two thirds of the pool is 15 feet deep, one third--used for bathing--is 51/2 feet deep, and the pool is made of wood.... [Translator's note: The next sentence of 4this paragraph is too obscure to be read.]
The water is pumped from the Danube by means of a steam engine and flows constantly, while part of the water in the pool drains constantly. Ample provisions for ventilation have been made; the large windows of the wall and a part of the roof can be opened. Bathtubs have not been forgotten; and there are sofas, chairs, a reading room, and smoking rooms. The ground surrounding the building has been landscaped, and presents a beautiful view to visitors.
It cannot be denied that institutions like the one described above are a credit and a benefit to the cities which erect and maintain them. They are also a source of lucrative financial gain; the income derived from them is enormous and the operating cost low. Chicago's facilities for constructing and maintaining a swimming pool and public bath are much better than those of Vienna; for Chicago has its waterworks and can pump the necessary water to any location at any time. When the new water tunnel has been finished 5we will always have water that is as clear as crystal, and no doubt our City Fathers will donate the water, since it is to be used for so beneficial a purpose. Of course it all depends upon who takes the matter in hand. I am firmly convinced that under such favorable circumstances and under good management the bonds sold to defray the cost of erecting a pool and bath would soon be worth double their par value, and would be a very good investment. All persons interested in the enterprise should meet very soon, each should subscribe for a one hundred-dollar bond, and when a sufficient amount has been raised in this way, a piece of ground should be purchased. When this has been done, there need be no worry about the completion of the project. It is therefore very desirable that the meeting tomorrow evening be well attended. I wish to add that the water that is pumped into the pool could be kept at an even temperature by heating the pipe that is connected with the pool.
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