The Origin of the Foot Rail


46 points | by ubac 136 days ago


  • gumby 136 days ago

    What about the Australian bars that were also urinals? No need to stop drinking.

    This photo has a rail AND is a urinal: . The article says it was in Oregon; I don't know if it was simultaneous invention or traveled from one continent to the other.

    • RandallBrown 136 days ago

      Here's another bar that's in Washington, but was purchased in Portland OR, that has a spittoon flowing beneath the bar for washing away chewing tobacco spit.

      Seems more likely that's what the troughs are for and some people occasionally used them to relieve themselves.

      • tingletech 136 days ago

        Merchant's Lunch in Oakland has a urinal at the bar, from when women were not allowed in bars and folks didn't want to have to give up their seat at the bar

        • gumby 136 days ago

          In Australia I remember them being described solely as urinals. Back then women weren't allowed in pubs anyway.

          I suppose America is more sophisticated, hence urinals needed to be referred to by the more genteel use for spitting.

          • edoceo 136 days ago

            It's the pub from Northern Exposure TV show.

          • shirro 136 days ago

            Not sure if this was ever the case. The Christian temperance movement succeeded in restricting liquor trading hours in Australia in the early 20th century. Workers would finish work and hurry to the pub for an hour of binge drinking known as the 6'oclock swill that lasted in some states until the 1960s. Working men's bars changed designs in response. Very long bars were needed to serve lots of beer in a hurry. And with people carrying lots of beers back to tables, sometimes doubling up before last drinks I expect a fair amount ended on the floor. So I think they got rid of all the fancy decor and went with tiles and troughs they could wash down which did give these old bars a public toilet look. I doubt if many have survived.

            • gumby 135 days ago

              I remember a couple of bush coal and watering stations where the entire train platform was a bar. My mum said that in the 50s women weren't allowed off the train (impossible to do without entering a bar) so they needed men to hand them cool drinks through the windows.

            • clairity 136 days ago

              while visiting costa rica, some friends and i went to a dimly lit entertainment hall that had a dance floor upstairs and a pool hall downstairs (with bars in both). we wanted to play pool, but without saying why, somebody told us women usually don't go downstairs. we assumed it might have been a cultural quirk, so we went anyway. guys kept walking over to the bar and seemingly standing around before coming back. turns out there was a urinal trough next to, but not part of, the bar (which we eventually smelled as well). so there's that.

            • wyclif 136 days ago

              I'm curious what HN, particularly the standing desk and ergonomics nerds, thinks about this statement?

              Turns out, humans aren’t really designed to stand for long periods with feet flat on the floor. This contributes to stress on the spine, and you can feel it in your lower back. A foot rail allows us to redistribute the load on our feet—first one foot, then the other—and alter the tilt of our spines.

              • MisterOctober 136 days ago

                Standing desk sometime-user [adjustable height desk] here -- I always use a footrest in the manner described in the quote and generally move around a lot -- I agree that standing in a static position for long periods is tiring / fatiguing for me

                [side note : when not standing, I sit on a yoga ball and likewise move / shift often]

                • krupan 136 days ago

                  Staying in any single position for a long time is bad for you. Get an adjustable height desk and give yourself more options.

                • mekane8 135 days ago

                  This quote really got me: "A foot rail is not only better for your back, but helps you cut a better figure. Standing flat-footed renders everyone a bit oafish; raising one foot results in a more rakish profile."


                  • zelon88 136 days ago

                    My local watering hole has one a foot rail. Now that the author mentioned it I definitely notice the assist in posture that it gives you.