This section is from the book "American Plumbing Practice", by The Engineering Record. Also available from Amazon: Plumbing: A working manual of American plumbing practice.
(Published In 1891.)
An American familiar with the fact that every house or apartment, renting as low as $300 per year in the United States, has its own bathtub with hot and cold water supply and waste to remove the contents of the tub, is amused if not amazed when, on a visit to Paris, he gets an idea of the custom still prevailing in that metropolis of luxury and elegant buildings.
The large hotels, some very costly private mansions and apartments, and the public bathhouses have their bathrooms as is the custom in the United States, though the French bathroom usually is much larger and is elegantly furnished with rugs, lounges, and dressing tables, etc., the idea being that if one takes a bath one must lie down and take a nap after it.
People living in apartments costing as high as a thousand dollars a year, and in the new quarter of Paris in the neighborhood of the Champs Elysees, when they wish to bathe, other than take a sponge bath in a small, portable tub, either go to the public bathing establishments or send thence to have a bath brought to their apartments. Sunday morning one sees a strange-looking, two-wheeled cart, like a very high dog-cart, on which there is a framework built over the wheels. This framework can hold three bathtubs. They are made entirely of copper and are about 5 feet long, about 20 inches deep at the end, and 18 inches on the side. The driver of this vehicle is perched up high on a small seat in front, is bareheaded and wears a blouse. On each side of him an iron ring encircles a copper-covered vessel holding about three gallons of hot water, which rests on a little shelf. He also carries a supply of dry towels and sheets. The bathing establishments have these carts, and when a patron sends word that he wants a hot bath at a certain hour, the bath is put on the cart, the kettle filled with hot water, and the cart with its strange load is rapidly driven to the building in which the apartment is. The driver carries the bathtub, as an Adirondack guide carries a canoe, on his head and shoulders from the first to the fifth floor, as the case may be, and after spreading a sheet to protect the carpet he spreads also a clean sheet inside of the tub, so that the bather does not touch the metal. Then he carries up the kettle of hot water which he has brought from the main establishment. The necessary cold water he gets on the premises, either on the same floor with the apartment or in the court yard. When the bather has had his bath the attendant removes the soiled water by dipping it out, wipes out the tub and carries it with his kettles and soiled towels downstairs to his cart. The charge for all this is about 60 cents, with the usual additional tip to the man.