|Comfort Station on State and 300 South in front of Auerbach, 1913. From UDSH.|
SLC was one of the first cities in the Western US to build elaborate underground public bathroom facilities – termed “comfort stations.”
Seattle was the first Western US city to build comfort stations, but they soon spread throughout the urban centers of the US.
The first underground comfort station in SLC was constructed in 1913 at the corner of 300 South and State St, in front of the Auerbach Department Store. It was built at a cost of $10K (about $263K in 2020 dollars).
A second underground comfort station was built the following year beneath the wide sidewalk near South Temple and Main Street.
These comfort stations were rather luxurious-- built with white marble and tile, modern fixtures, electric lights, and a modern air circulation system that changed the air every 3 minutes; they were designed to accommodate 100 persons per hour.
Attendants were employed at each of the comfort stations. Mr. Samuel Steward, an African American, was employed as the caretaker of the comfort station on 300 South from its opening in 1913 until at least 1943 (when he was 72 years old). He and his wife Allie raised 12 children on his salary as an attendant (in 1941 his salary was about $40 a month, about $708 in 2020 dollars).
In Feb 1962, both of the underground comfort stations were closed by the Salt Lake City Commission citing vandalism and a savings of $3,500 annually. They were capped at this time but were not demolished. Later in the 1980s these facilities were rediscovered during construction activities and they were filled in at that time.
Sources: Domestic Engineering 1914; Engineering News 1914; SL Telegram 1943-06-06; SL Trib 1962-01-22
|Inside the Women's Comfort Station at State St & 300 South, 1913. From UDSH.|
|Inside the Men's Comfort Station at State St & 300 South, 1913. From UDSH.|
|Comfort Station on South Temple and Main Streets, 1914. From UDSH.|
|Inside the Women's Comfort Station on South Temple and Main Streets, 1914. From UDSH.|
|Inside the Men's Comfort Station on South Temple and Main Streets, 1914. From UDSH.|
|Construction of State and 300 South Comfort Station in front of Auerbach, 1913. From UDSH.|
|Construction of Main and South Temple Comfort Station, 1914. From UDSH.|
|News clipping from Salt Lake Telegram Oct 18 1913|