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Khalid Swift
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Number of baths. In the 3rd/9th century Baghdad boasted 5,000 baths, 100 years later 10,000, but it had only 2,000 baths in the 6th/12th century. However, these figures must be taken with a grain of salt (Mez, pp. 365-66). In the Safavid era cities like Isfahan boasted countless public bathhouses. Rich Persians and Europeans had, of course, their own private baths (Kaempfer, p. 155). Although some efforts have been made to list surviving historical monuments in various Iranian cities, in the absence of archeological research we have no data on the number of bathhouses in the most important urban centers in Iran prior to the 19th century. We are better served for the latter period, although the data base is not always very reliable.


At least once, sometimes twice a year, Persians had themselves cupped (gar-tarāšī, rag-zanī, or ḥejāmat; see BLOODLETING) in the bathhouses, because it was generally believed that this was healthy (Šahrī, pp. 257-59). As a number of persons are in the bath at one time, part of the time is passed in talking and smoking and sometimes sleeping. On coming out the client gets a white towel and returns to the first room, where his body is massaged (moštmāl-e bīrūnī) during some 15 minutes, which is different from the first massage. After drying and some relaxation the client takes his clothes and leaves. Outside the ḥammām there are all kinds of fruit and juice sellers to cater to the needs of the refreshed customers.

According to Waring, five days were allotted to men and only two to women; according to Polak, only the mornings were for women. To announce that the bathhouse was open for men, two old loincloths were hung flanking the entrance door or the entrance from the street. The sign for women was a thick curtain hung in front of the door. The entrance for male baths was in the street itself, while for women it was at the end of a lane.

J. Šahrī, Gūša-ī az tārīḵ ejtemāʿī-e Tehrān-e qadīm, Tehran, 1357 Š./1978, pp. 236-88 (a comprehensive description of traditional ḥammāms in Tehran and all the practices, customs, rituals, beliefs, and superstitions associated with public bathhouses).

Finally, there was a bath within the Dayr caravansary (Dayr-e Gač) on the old road direct from Verāmīn to Qom (Figure 30), a rare example of a bathhouse inside a caravansary. The large caravansary at Dayr must have been built in Safavid times inside a Saljuq rebāṭ. The bath was in the southwest corner and opened on a court, which led to the latrines and from which the bath was also heated. It consisted of two octagonal domed rooms with a maximum diameter of 4.50 m, which were heated by a hot-water duct under the floor. The two hot-water pools were on the south side of the tepidarium. The bath was built entirely of brick and was about half underground. Its rooms reached a height of 4.10 m, and the domes were without windows.

New York City's free public bath program: making the "Great Unwashed" feel so fresh and so clean since the late 19th century. Made less for recreation than to remedy New York's public health plights at a time when a survey found there to be only one bathtub for every 79 families living on the Lower East Side, public bathhouses were a great boon to both to the bathers and those who had to inhale their newly cleansed B.O. Not to be confused with the abundance of Russian, Turkish, Korean and other baths to be found in the city today, these early structures were municipally funded public cleaning stations, if you will, where the city's poorest could go to relax and luxuriate not for leisure but for hygiene's sake. Below, explore nine of the most ornate and interesting structures that once held public baths, and what's happened to them over the 40 years since most were decommissioned. For what is easily the most extensive history of these bastions of cleanliness online, check out Michael Minn's website. Hannah Frishberg

Some legal scholars propose that the right of privacy articulated by the United States Supreme Court should be extended to protect homosexual activity. In light of the advent of AIDS, should that extension include constitutional protection for homosexual men who frequent gay bathhouses? The author argues that although the government has the power to close the baths in the name of public health, it should not do so without careful and conscious balancing against the privacy rights infringed upon by its actions. Balancing the tension between public health policy and individual rights applies not only to the specific situation of the baths, but also to insurance companies' aim to test all single, young, male life and health policy applicants for exposure to the putative AIDS virus; to potential health department releases of names of those testing antibody-positive for HTLV-III; to the military's rumored plans to discharge all personnel suspected of having AIDS; and to school districts seeking to exclude children with AIDS.

KIE: In some American cities, health officials have proposed closing gay bathhouses in an attempt to slow the spread of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by discouraging promiscuous sexual activity among male homosexuals. Rabin examines the constitutional implications of these closings. The rights of homosexuals as citizens to privacy, free association, and equal protection as members of a suspect class are weighed against the state's interest in protecting the public's health. While Rabin questions the necessity of closing bathhouses to slow the spread of AIDS, she concludes that courts are likely to rule that public health needs must prevail over the associational rights of homosexuals.

The park has made great use of the remaining bathhouses, leasing them out for alternative uses, such as a brewery (which uses the thermal waters in its beers), a boutique hotel (coming soon) and a gift shop, where you can purchase glass jugs to fill up some of that spring water to take back home.

Bathhouse owners and their attorneys have vowed to fight any attempts at a shutdown, and the American Civil Liberties Union has weighed in on their side. Although vigilance against government intrusion into the private activities of citizens is to be commended, in this case it is misguided. Any attempts to defend the bathhouses would be a grave disservice to the gay community whose rights are thought to be at stake.

Initially these talks were meant to formalize a new regulatory framework for bathhouses; however, fearing that an overly complicated regulatory structure would add additional barriers to the baths, this idea was scrapped. Instead, in February 2019, Supervisor Mandelman introduced an ordinance that would direct the SFDPH to revisit the minimum standards and prohibit them from requiring monitoring, regulating door size, and prohibiting locks.[xxxi] He argued that:

Results. Men who used party drugs and had unprotected anal intercourse with nonprimary partners were more likely to go to sex venues than men who did not. Among attendees, MSM who went to public cruising areas only were least likely, and those who went to both public cruising areas and bathhouses were most likely to report risky sex in public settings.

Like many explicitly queer spaces, bathhouses were frequently the target of homophobic vice raids in the 1960s and 70s. While gay sex was an obvious and significant part of bathhouses, the greater conversation about them has largely ignored the civic good also undertaken at these spaces.

News: wellness entrepreneur Nell Waters is attempting to raise 146,000 on crowdfunding website Kickstarter to build a prototypal ecological urban bathhouse from shipping containers in San Francisco. More

Hungarian studio Budapesti Műhely has restored the interior of one of Budapest's oldest bathhouses by replacing the vaulted walls of the warm water hall and shower room, leaving the bubble-shaped backs exposed (+ slideshow). More

Chicago built 19 public baths between 1894 and 1918. Two other baths were also provided inside water pumping stations for men only, bringing the total to 21. Patronage declined over the years, with laws requiring indoor plumbing facilities in apartments making bathhouses less essential. The city started closing the public baths after World War II. The last one open was the Robert A. Waller public bath at 19 S. Peoria, built to serve the Madison Street skid row district. It closed in 1979, after the heart of skid row began to be demolished for the Presidential Towers development.

The Simon Baruch bath opened in 1910 and is located at 1911 W. Cullerton. It appears somewhat similar to the Lincoln Street Bath, as it is from the later era of bathhouse construction. A waiting room is not readily apparent from the exterior; perhaps it was incorporated into the general design of the building.

There are two types of Japanese baths: public bathhouses (sento) and hot-spring baths (onsen). The difference is in how the water is heated, but we'll refer to both as baths since the basics as a bather are similar.

Many baths have saunas, rest areas, massage chairs and a vending machine for snacks and drinks. Some even offer massage services, restaurants and overnight accommodation. One budget way to stay overnight in Japan is to sleep in a reclining chair or tatami rest room at bathhouse that is open all night.

About 50 people gathered at Lush bar Monday night to hear the case for reexamining Minneapolis' ban on bathhouses, the predominant hookup scene for gay men prior to the 1980s AIDS epidemic. OutFront Minnesota provided a legal analysis, the Red Door Clinic a health perspective.

The problem is, Minneapolis is holding fast to 30-year-old scientific understanding of HIV. City laws still define it as an "irreversible and uniformly fatal" disease, which is why it shut down the city's bathhouses in 1986 and prevents any new ones from opening.


Online Christmas Event Dec 6- Dec 22, 2023 for BTG Classroom...


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