Technological advances during industrialization brought major
changes to the kitchen. Iron stoves, which enclosed the fire
completely and were more efficient, appeared. Early models included
the Franklin stove around 1740, which was a furnace stove intended
for heating, not for cooking. Benjamin Thompson in England designed
his "Rumford stove" around 1800. This stove was much more energy
efficient than earlier stoves; it used one fire to heat several
pots, which were hung into holes on top of the stove and were thus
heated from all sides instead of just from the bottom. However, his
stove was designed for large kitchens; it was too big for domestic
use. The "Oberlin stove" was a refinement of the technique that
resulted in a size reduction; it was patented in the U.S. in 1834
and became a commercial success with some 90,000 units sold over the
next 30 years. These stoves were still fired with wood or coal.
Although the first gas street lamps were installed in Paris, London,
and Berlin at the beginning of the 1820s and the first U.S. patent
on a gas stove was granted in 1825, it wasn't until the late 19th
century that using gas for lighting and cooking became commonplace
in urban areas.
The urbanization in the second half of the 19th century induced
other significant changes that ultimately would also change the
kitchen. Out of sheer necessity, cities began planning and building
water distribution pipes into homes, and built canalisations to deal
with the waste water. Gas pipes were laid; gas was used first for
lighting purposes, but once the network had grown sufficiently, it
became available also for heating and cooking on gas stoves. At the
turn of the 20th century, electricity had been mastered well enough
to become a commercially viable alternative to gas and slowly
started replacing the latter. But like the gas stove, the electrical
stove had a slow start. The first electrical stove had been
presented in 1893 at the Chicago world fair, but it wasn't until the
1930s that the technology was stable enough and began to take off.
Industrialization also caused social changes. The new factory
working class in the cities was housed under generally poor
conditions. Whole families lived in small one or two-room apartments
in tenement buildings up to six stories high, badly aired and with
insufficient lighting. Sometimes, they shared apartments with "night
sleepers", unmarried men that paid for a bed at night. The kitchen
in such an apartment was often used as a living and sleeping room,
and even as a bathroom. Water had to be fetched from wells and
heated on the stove. Water pipes were laid only towards the end of
the 19th century, and then often only with one tap per building or
per story. Brick-and-mortar stoves fired with coal remained the norm
until well into the second half of the century. Pots and kitchenware
typically were stored on open shelves, and parts of the room could
be separated from the rest using simple curtains.
In contrast, there were no dramatic changes for the upper classes.
The kitchen, located in the basement or the ground floor, continued
to be operated by servants. In some houses, water pumps were
installed, and some even had kitchen sinks and drains (but no water
on tap yet, except for some feudal kitchens in castles). The kitchen
became a much cleaner space with the advent of "cooking machines",
closed stoves made of iron plates and fired by wood and increasingly
charcoal or coal, and that had flue pipes connected to the chimney.
For the servants the kitchen continued to serve also as a sleeping
room; they slept either on the floor, or later in narrow spaces
above a lowered ceiling, for the new stoves with their smoke outlet
no longer required a high ceiling in the kitchen. The kitchen floors
were tiled; kitchenware was neatly stored in cupboards to protect
them from dust and steam. A large table served as a workbench; there
were at least as many chairs as there were servants, for the table
in the kitchen also doubled as the eating place for the servants.
The middle class tried to imitate the luxurious dining styles of the
upper class as best as it could. Living in smaller apartments, the
kitchen was the main room—here, the family lived. The study or
living room was saved for special occasions such as an occasional
dinner invitation. Because of this, these middle-class kitchens
often were more homely than those of the upper class, where the
kitchen was a work-only room occupied only by the servants. Besides
a cupboard to store the kitchenware, there were a table and chairs,
where the family would dine, and sometimes—if space allowed—even a
fauteuil or a couch.
Gas pipes were laid only in the late 19th century, and gas stoves
started to replace the older coal-fired stoves. Gas was more
expensive than coal, though, and thus the new technology first was
installed in the wealthier homes. Where workers' apartments were
equipped with a gas stove, gas distribution would go through a coin
In rural areas, the older technology using coal or wood stoves or
even brick-and-mortar open fireplaces remained common throughout.
Gas and water pipes were first installed in the big cities; small
villages were connected only much later.
The trend to increasing gasification and electrification continued
at the turn of the 20th century. In industry, it was the phase of
rationalization, where work processes were attempted to be
streamlined. Taylorism was born, and time-motion studies were used
to optimize processes. These ideas also spilled over into domestic
kitchen architecture due to a growing trend that called for a
professionalization of household work, started in the mid-19th
century by Catharine Beecher and amplified by Christine Frederick's
publications in the 1910s.
Working class women frequently worked in factories to ensure the
family's survival, as the men's wages often did not suffice. Social
housing projects led to the next milestone: the "Frankfurt kitchen".
Developed in 1926, this kitchen measured 1.9m by 3.4m (approximately
6'2" by 11'2"), with a standard layout. It was built for two
purposes: to optimize kitchen work to reduce cooking time (so that
women would have more time for the factory) and to lower the cost of
building decently-equipped kitchens. The design, created by
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, was the result of detailed time-motion
studies and heavily influenced by the railway dining car kitchens of
the period. It was built in some 10,000 apartments in a social
housing project of architect Ernst May in Frankfurt.
The initial reception was heavily critical: people were not
accustomed to the changed processes also designed by
Schütte-Lihotzky; it was so small that only one person could work in
it; some storage spaces intended for raw loose food ingredients such
as flour were reachable by children. But the Frankfurt kitchen
embodied a standard for the rest of the 20th century in rental
apartments: the "work kitchen". Too small to live or dine in, it was
soon criticized as "exiling the women in the kitchen", but the
post-World War II conservatism coupled with economic reasons
prevailed. The kitchen once more was seen as a work place that
needed to be separated from the living areas. Practical reasons also
played a role in this development: just as in the bourgeois homes of
the past, one reason for separating the kitchen was to keep the
steam and smells of cooking out of the living room.
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