Tröpferlbäder - History

Apostelbad from the outside Increasing industrialisation and explosive growth were characteristic of Vienna in the second half of the 19 th century. It was the so-called Gründerzeit (period of promoterism) which brought throngs of people to Vienna from nearby areas and from the crown lands further afield. They came here in the hope of finding work. In 1910 Vienna had more than 2 million inhabitants. Housing and hygiene were a disaster for many. This induced the City Administration to build baths for the people – the so-called "Tröpferlbäder".

The first public shower bath in Vienna was opened on December 22, 1887. Located in the 7 th district, in Mondscheingasse 9, it disposed of separate showers and change rooms for 42 men and 24 women. This cleansing bath for the people was an absolute novelty in all of Europe. 78,000 people visited the bath in its first year.

By the beginning of the First World War a further 18 shower baths had been built. Approximately 3.5 million people made use of the Tröpferlbäder in 1914. Only 30 percent were women.

Bathing categories

Public shower baths had two categories. In category one every visitor had their own, lockable shower unit. The units were fitted with change facilities and a mixing tap for hot and cold showers.

In category two there was a common change room with lockers for each visitor. Next to the change room was the common shower room with open units for hot and cold showers. To begin with there were separate showers for men and women only. Later on separate showers for adults and children were introduced. Some baths also had tubs.

Water flowed sparsely

The shower baths usually had their water tanks in the attic. They did not hold sufficient water for great numbers of people. At peak times water would merely drip from the shower heads. That is how the public shower baths got their nickname Tröpferlbäder (from Tropfen = drop).

Welfare policies

For workers in Vienna the public shower baths were the only means of proper body hygiene for many decades. They proved a blessing for people’s health.

With increasing housing comfort the number of visitors to the Tröpferlbäder has gradually declined. Most public shower baths have been closed or fitted with saunas and turned into warm baths.

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