Plumbing The City

The regulation of sanitary installers in urban Europe (1850-1940)

Plumbing at Hotel Solvay (1898) in Brussels

Plumbing The City is a FWO-funded postdoctoral research project (2022-2025) in which historian Matthijs Degraeve examines the contribution of governments and businesses to the transformation of private sanitary conditions in 19th and early 20th-century urban Europe. The research focuses on how government regulation of urban sanitary conditions affected the installation of modern sanitary conveniences in private housing, such as bathrooms and water-closets. Could governments impact the work of the city’s plumbers, their business organisation and know-how, in order to create healthier urban environments? The research compares London, Paris and Brussels, three nearby capital cities where modern sanitary comforts were introduced in an early stage.