With an increasing number of bathrooms, more regulations were necessary, which led Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, to establish the 1924 Bureau of Standards for basic plumbing. Although these codes were not enforceable, they were effective and provided a technical solution to the plumbing aspects of safety and sanitation. Almost 20 years later, the 1940 Housing Census found that still only 50.9 percent of all U. S. houses were in good condition with a bath and flush toilet.
The plumbing situation improved by 1950 with more than 85 percent of urban homes having hot and cold running water, 92 percent a flush toilet, and 89 percent a bathtub or shower. In rural areas, however, more than half of farm homes lacked a bathroom. In 1951, the Department of Commerce established a National Plumbing Code, and in 1955, the American Standards Association distributed a list of basic plumbing principles that served as recommendations to municipalities.
Today, technological solutions, as well as strict plumbing codes, have made a safe water supply and sanitary disposal system available to all except a very small portion of the American population. As new innovations emerge, care is taken to make sure they continue to meet the sanitation standards necessary for good health.
The bathrooms of today contain many of the basic elements of earlier bathrooms, but new technologies, materials, and lifestyles have made the bathroom into a more inviting, relaxing, and comfortable room to enjoy. Awareness of the need for universal and accessible design has been growing since the end of World War II, with the requirements of disabled veterans, polio patients, and the aging population becoming more important.
Today the bathroom is undergoing a reinvention similar to the kitchen. No longer just a place to cleanse the body, the bathroom is also serving as a place to relax and become revitalized, a place to awaken the senses to a pleasurable experience. Much like the baths of the early Greeks and Romans, the bath is a place to relax and shower or soak away the stresses of the day.