Historical Photo of the Week: Lavanderas

Shot by William Henry Jackson sometime around the turn of the 19th century. Found at LOC.

Public baths and washing spaces are rare in Mexico these days. On my recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, I wandered up past the French park up to where the public pilas used to stand, and felt a little nostalgic for the old days when the area was redolent with the smell of pink and yellow bar laundry soap. As I stood on the empty landing, I could almost hear the echo of children splashing and women cackling about chisme. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, as the disappearance of publish wash spaces probably indicates that more people now have running water in their homes…