Profile America: First Laundromat

The first laundromat, called a “Washateria,” was opened today by John F. Cantrell in Fort Worth, Texas. (Credit: Retro Newser)

The first laundromat, called a “Washateria,” was opened today by John F. Cantrell in Fort Worth, Texas. (Credit: Retro Newser)

Monday, April 17 — For urban dwellers, the difficulty — or at least the expense — of doing their laundry began to ease this month in 1934. That’s when the first public, self-operated laundry in the U.S. opened its doors in Fort Worth, Texas. The first name was “Washateria,” eventually replaced with the now familiar “Laundromat.” Early facilities were not necessarily coin-operated, and there was always an attendant on duty. The automatic washing machine came along in 1937, and by the late 1940s, the first unattended, 24-hour Laundromats were opened. Now, there are just under 11,000 dry cleaners and coin-operated laundromats across the country. Employing over 39,000 people, they do $3.5 billion of grime-fighting business annually.

You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online here.

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