The versatile shower: here in Salt Lake City we use it to wash everything from pets to people. But how did our shower develop? What first inspired our plumbing marvel? Below is a short history of the shower.

The Very First Beginnings of the Shower

Waterfalls are thought to be the very first type of “shower” used. Just looking at a shower and a waterfall, the similarities are very clear. Both letting water flow down and onto whatever is below through gravity. Unfortunately for cavemen, they did not have the luxury we in Salt Lake City enjoy of putting in waterfalls wherever they wanted.  Waterfalls were still more convenient than trying to form a “bath” of sorts, or figure out how to get a great quantity of water wherever they wanted it. Especially since they didn’t have plumbing or plumbers. Still, it was probably only a spring/summer sort of thing, since there was no option for heating the water. How lucky we are in Salt Lake City to have both water heating options and plumbing!

The First Plumbed Showers

By the time of the Early Ancient Civilizations like Egypt, people began to use jugs of water to reproduce the effect of a shower. The obvious solution to hauling water around with them for cleaning, early citizens would pour the jug over themselves. In the Ancient Egyptian city of Akhenaten they actually had small bathrooms for this purpose. An upper class member would stand or sit in this bathroom while a slave poured water over them. The Greeks took this one step further and connected communal showers that everyone could use. These showers were connected to their plumbing and aqueduct system. The Romans also had the same sort of showers, and the remains can be found from ancient Rome and throughout their conquered territories. Though their plumbing was not as personalized as Salt Lake City’s current plumbing, it was still more refined than that used during most of the middle ages. Though why that is, still remains somewhat unclear.

A Small Regression for the Middle Ages or Bad Press?

There are many famous people from the middle ages that are quoted to show todays standard of cleanliness was not shared with either the early civilizations or today. For example it is often said that Queen Elizabeth the First “took a bath every month whether she needed it or not.” The truth of this is actually a little more cloudy than the sources of these quotes would have us believe. The first reason is more political in nature. Certain religious leaders (like St. Francis of Assisi) spread the belief that dirtiness was close to holiness. Why they chose to spread this message we can only guess, but it clearly had an impact. It has also been suggested that some medieval people believed baths to be unhealthy, although again the reason differed depending on when one was taking a bath and ones station. However, there seem to have been at least as many people who took bathing as a serious and important daily activity. A lot of how often you bathed had to do with your wealth and status, back then. The wealthier one was, the more likely one could afford the supplies it took to bathe, and the servant-power to get hot water to the tub. People were more likely to bathe (if they cleaned using water), or use a cloth to wash their face and hands from a basin filled with water and sometimes oil. Showers do not seem to be mentioned at all in this time period, only baths. So while the shower suffered a regression, it was not necessarily the cleanliness of everyone.

“Modern” History

William Feetham is credited with the invention of the first modern shower. The 1767 shower worked by hand pump. The pump forced water to cycle from a pan above down over the person below and back up to the top.This shower didn’t heat the water or clean it, so it isn’t that surprising that it never really gained popularity. It lacked proper plumbing, unfortunately. This problem was solved around 1810, when it was connected to that society’s first indoor plumbing. This solved the previous problem with dirty water, and it was also about this time the idea of different types of shower head spray developed.

It wasn’t until the 19th century it was established with science that washing up and showering prevents disease and infection. It was also around this time that showering daily became a more widespread practice. The shower is still developing to this day. Now we have things like built in televisions, multiple shower heads, various types of lighting, or even sauna lights!  Some showers even have imitation waterfall slots instead of shower heads. Whether you fancy a simple shower, or something a little more exotic, the modern shower is a wonderful invention.

Want to install a new shower? Need maintenance for your Shower? Your Plumber Salt Lake City is here to help. Give us a call about your project today.