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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/103

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NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS IN THEATER SANITATION.

creases the safety of human life in theaters and other places of amusement, its use is in many city or building ordinances made imperative—at least on the stage and in the main body of the auditorium. Stairs, corridors, entrances, etc., may, as a matter of precaution, be lighted by a different system, by means of either gas or auxiliary vegetable oil or candle lamps, protected by glass inclosures against smoke or draught, and provided with special inlet and outlet flues for air.

Passing to other desirable internal improvements of theaters, I would mention first the floors of the auditorium. The covering of the floor by carpets is objectionable—in theaters more so even than in dwelling houses. Night after night the carpet comes in contact with thousands of feet, which necessarily bring in a good deal of street dirt and dust. The latter falls on the carpets and attaches to them, and as it is not feasible to take the carpets up except during the summer closing, a vast accumulation of dirt and organic matter results, some of the dirt falling through the crevices between the floor boards. Many theater-goers are not tidy in their habits regarding expectoration, and as there must be in every large audience some persons afflicted with tuberculosis, the danger is ever present of the germs of the disease drying on the carpet, and becoming again detached to float in the air which we are obliged to breathe in a theater.

As a remedy I would propose abolishing carpets entirely, and using instead a floor covering of linoleum, or thin polished parquetry oak floors, varnished floors of hard wood, painted and stained floors, interlocked rubber-tile floors, or, at least for the aisles, encaustic or mosaic tiling. Between the rows of seats, as well as in the aisles, long rugs or mattings may be laid down loose, for these can be taken up without much trouble. They should be frequently shaken, beaten, and cleaned.

Regarding the walls, ceilings, and cornices, the surfaces should be of a material which can be readily cleaned and which is non-absorbent. Stucco finish is unobjectionable, but should be kept flat, so as not to offer dust-catching projections. Oil painting of walls is preferable to a covering with rough wall papers, which hold large quantities of dust. The so-called "sanitary" or varnished wall papers have a smooth, non-absorbent, easily cleaned surface, and are therefore unobjectionable. All heavy decorations, draperies, and hangings in the boxes, and plush covers for railings, are to be avoided.

The theater furniture should be of a material which does not catch or hold dust. Upholstered plush-covered chairs and seats retain a large amount of it, and are not readily cleaned. Leather-