When PHCC got its start 125 years ago, plumbing had just begun to evolve into a
trade unto itself. During the 1880s, the transition from outhouses to indoor plumbing was moving at a rapid pace, starting with better homes and commercial buildings. The burgeoning market for indoor plumbing spurred some gasfitters and other metal workers to specialize in this work. The men who installed gaslights to illuminate the urban night might land a job the next day installing a plumbing system.
Nineteenth-century plumbing was laborious work. Plumbers had to fabricate much of their own pipe and fittings. The ready-made materials that were available had no
common specifications or standards. One manufacturer’s product typically would not connect with another’s. Plumbers had to be ingenious mechanics to figure out ways to put a workable system together from disparate materials.