Thread Number: 71960  /  Tag: Modern Automatic Washers
Article: The Decline of the American Laundromat
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Post# 951876   8/6/2017 at 18:35 (411 days old) by stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Post# 951941 , Reply# 1   8/7/2017 at 09:05 (411 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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That article states: While the first self-serve laundromat opened in 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas, the industry didn’t really take off until the ’50s, after many cities became more densely populated.

I question the accuracy of that, the Bendix wasn't introduced until 1937.

Post# 951942 , Reply# 2   8/7/2017 at 10:11 (411 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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What if the machines were wringers?

Post# 951965 , Reply# 3   8/7/2017 at 12:11 (411 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

They did exist. I was in the car with my parents driving through the backwoods of (South Georgia or Northern Florida) in the deep-south back in the fifties. We stopped for fuel and lunch and I remember a place with all wringers next door. It was an open-air building with a couple dozen Maytag Wringers of different vintage. There were some really old ones and the first ones I ever saw with the skirt-only Gyratator. That's how I found out how badly they tangled----- watching the women using them untangle the mess. Each position had a set-sink and provisions for water. The floor was just a concrete slab with drains in it near the machines. People would just drop the hose to the floor to drain the tubs. There was an attendant that collected the money and wandered around giving advice and help. People just took their laundry home to dry on their own lines as there were no dryers. No telling how long it had been there, however, some of those machines had those old metal Gyratators in them. Since 1934 was the heighth of the "Great Depression" it makes sense to me that these old, somewhat primitive, self-serve places existed before automatics arrived on the scene.

Post# 951979 , Reply# 4   8/7/2017 at 14:07 (411 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

I know of only one person who wouldn't trade her laundromat for residential equipment. "I can do six loads in an hour-and-a-half!"

I chose the apartment I moved to last week because I'd have my own washer/dryer and a garage space. That's how much I don't like going to the laundromat.

In an age where people think nothing of dropping $400-800 on a cell phone every couple of years, the price of lower-end washers and dryers is a bargain. It constitutes a far smaller percentage of a person's income than it did in, say, 1970.

Post# 951989 , Reply# 5   8/7/2017 at 15:50 (411 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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A wringer washer laundromat makes sense that didn't even dawn on me.

"I can do six loads in an hour-and-a-half!

So can I lol, sans laundromat and leaving the house ;-)

Post# 951994 , Reply# 6   8/7/2017 at 16:50 (410 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I would hope Robert, she had plenty of kids to help and drag the wet laundry home and has a big enough clothesline and lots of clothespins, LOL, six loads!

Post# 952022 , Reply# 7   8/7/2017 at 20:19 (410 days old) by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

I wonder what Peter H. Would have to say about this article?

Post# 952067 , Reply# 8   8/7/2017 at 22:05 (410 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

I give up. What is an "on demand laundry app"?

"'Offering a washer and dryer in-unit is a trend we’re certainly seeing,' ... 'A recent survey ... found the addition of washers and dryers to be one of the most common upgrades to apartments in recent years.'"

I suspect this trend is creeping downscale as well. Now that I think about it, every renovation and new construction I'm aware of has been designed for Euro-sized units. I wonder if that's a general urban trend or unique to NYC and other densely populated areas.

Post# 952079 , Reply# 9   8/7/2017 at 23:14 (410 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Laundry apps.

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Thought one posted about such things before:

But for those who wish to do things themselves:

Post# 952082 , Reply# 10   8/7/2017 at 23:32 (410 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Believe one has spoken about this before

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Laundromats and or even laundries have been vanishing from New York City and elsewhere at a rapid pace.

Much of this is as OP linked article spells out; the land they are on is worth more than the business. This applies to owners of the property and or those who rent. The latter are impacted because higher land values tend either to have landlords sell, and then the property is redeveloped. This and or rents go up and places simply cannot afford.

None of this even touches things such as changing demographics and population shifts.

Here in NYC having en suite washer and dryer has become nearly mandatory for apartments selling/renting about a certain number. Persons spending million or millions for an apartment, or several thousand in rent don't like being told they have to use laundryettes or whatever. It is rather like automatic dishwashers have become nearly standard kitchen equipment.

Post# 952096 , Reply# 11   8/8/2017 at 00:38 (410 days old) by superocd (PNW)        
I don't have a reason to go to a laundromat...

...nor would I want to. Germs, grime and crud galore. I'd have to run a bleach cycle on empty on any washer I would use, and use a heavy-duty degreaser to remove baked-on grime, skin oil residue and God knows what else baked on the drum of the dryer. The fact that commercial dryers can kill most bacteria does not assuage me. It would be a chore in of itself, hence my name 'superocd'.

However, I would take time to stop at an old laundromat to use old the old Wascomat W1xx series. I love it when the relays click into the spin cycle and the big whistle it would make when it would spin down. I would feel especially happy if I could use an old Hoyt, Troy Laundrite ("Big Boy"), Cook Aldwash/Aldry and a plethora of pre-1980s machines that are simply not around any more.

I was a 90s kid but I feel like I've missed out on some pretty interesting machines. I only went to the laundromat three times a year, when we washed bedspreads and curtains that would not fit in our GE Filter Flo at home. The machines there were the ubiquitous 1980s Wascomat/Huebsch Loadstar combos. The new computerized Alliance/Wasco/etc. stuff, while good, is pretty boring -- every laundromat has these now. I guess they kind of have to because parts are probably nonexistent for older machines, as are many of the manufacturers, and they are certainly not water and energy efficient. The washers filled way above the glass door and had no sensors to determine how much water to use and the dryers had standing pilots and ran hot.

Post# 952104 , Reply# 12   8/8/2017 at 02:12 (410 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Really don't like laundrettes any longer

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Only truly go when things are too big for doing at home, and or so much it would take several loads (and thus all day) in the Miele or AEG washers. When get the hang of using Maytag wringer this may change as well.

Frist and foremost cannot abide the near universal practice of either laundry workers or customers piling their dirty laundry into the carts. You know the carts one is supposed to unload just washed laundry. So one brings a plastic bin liner and laundry basket. Former goes down first inside cart, then latter, finally laundry. This applies to unloading washer or dryer.

Two, the water never really is hot enough IMHO for proper sanitation. Well it might be coming out of the taps, but the first cold pre-rinse will leave washing sufficiently chilled enough to bring down overall temp.

Three, the dryers are coated inside from those fabric softener sheets. People use two, three or more per load. As such your washing is going become "softened" regardless.

Post# 952233 , Reply# 13   8/8/2017 at 19:38 (409 days old) by GusHerb (Chicago/NWI)        

Those are my complaints about the local laundromat exactly. I only go when it involves washing things too big or too nasty for my SQ.

Post# 952234 , Reply# 14   8/8/2017 at 19:40 (409 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
"Bendix wasn't introduced until 1937"

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In April 1937, John F. Cantrell opened the first self operated electric laundry in Fort Worth, Texas. Customers paid to rent machines on an hourly basis. Name of the new service was Washerteria.

Westinghouse got into the coin operated laundry business in 1947 via their "Laundromat" washers (which explains why every darned spell check insists on capitalizing the word as a proper noun).

The other player in this field was Bendix who placed their coin operated their "Launderette" washers via a distributor (Telecoin).

Telecoin began actually distributing Bendix machines by late 1930's or early 1940's. But they did seem to concentrate on the "on premises market". Meaning apartment houses and so forth.

Either way Bendix, Telecoin, and Westinghouse all found themselves involved in anti-trust and other lawsuits.


Post# 952239 , Reply# 15   8/8/2017 at 20:15 (409 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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We had "Snow White" Westinghouse washaterias but not a coin one. A line of washers bolted down and Cissal gas dryers with some extractor on the other side that every load out of the washers got put in it and spun almost dry. The nice ladies in their white uniforms did it all for you and you came back later, got your laundry but paid thru the nose in those days. This was in the 50's. There are very few coin laundromats left around here now. No Maytag Highlander Centers, Norge Villages with their big sphere on the roof, etc. How time changes.

Post# 953096 , Reply# 16   8/16/2017 at 14:16 (402 days old) by PeterH770 (Marietta, GA)        

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The article is true. In my case, the recession for 2008 caused my business to start dropping, as the need for "migrant workers" diminished with the collapse of the building boom here. Then in 2011, GA passed an immigration bill fashioned after the AZ bill. Many Hispanic gathering places became ghost towns. All in all, I lost 60-70% of my business in one store, and about 20% at the other. That much of a drop left me with no money to effectively pay for repairs, certainly not enough to retool and upgrade machines. I've been limping along ever since.

Post# 953107 , Reply# 17   8/16/2017 at 15:22 (402 days old) by Unimatic1140 (Minneapolis)        

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Ahhhh the American Laudromat, how I used to love it!

Post# 953148 , Reply# 18   8/16/2017 at 20:03 (401 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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This may or may not help, but here in NYC area many laundromats are moving to doing only service washes and or joining forces with various "apps" to take in work.

A good number of laundry app services here do not own any equipment, rather they contract out with various commercial laundries. That is what makes getting into such a business a bit easier; not having to outlay the cash and such much less own the equipment.

Post# 953158 , Reply# 19   8/16/2017 at 22:12 (401 days old) by Repair-man (Pittsburgh PA)        

Laundromats still work around here on a smaller scale. Usually about 1500-3000 sq ft max, 20-30 washers, completely self serve (no attendant ). Several new ones built each year. Most still have a row of top load washers. Even new stores. Pittsburgh tends to like old ways. If one had a supplier they could probably make a living selling wringer washers. Card systems are not popular so almost all still take quarters. Starting to see add on credit card readers but I can't think of any stores that are card activated only. There are a few larger stores in the most densely populated areas.

Post# 953166 , Reply# 20   8/17/2017 at 03:58 (401 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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"I can do six loads in an hour-and-a-half!"


When I was forced to use a coin operated laundry exclusively, the thing I liked--the ONLY thing I liked--was being able to do more than one load at once. But I otherwise hated the experience. I hated the inconvenience of going to the place. The environment was not particularly pleasant, and while I could do several loads in a short time, I was pretty much there doing nothing but laundry for that time. (Well, I did sometimes quickly visit a neighboring grocery store.)


And for most of that time, it wasn't like I actually got the load fully done in 1 1/2 hours. I had a working dryer, and so I brought the laundry back to where I lived to dry, rather than spend 25 cents for 2 seconds of drying time.


And then...there was always the question of germs...and what was this washer used for before I got here?


Eventually, the woman who owns this property upgraded washers elsewhere, and I got a semi-functional WCI Frigidaire. I really don't like those washers, and this one had issues. But it sure beat the coin operated laundry.


Post# 953181 , Reply# 21   8/17/2017 at 06:29 (401 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Laundromats In The DC Area

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Largely started to disappear in the 90s, at least in the nicer areas which has been a boom to our business repairing and selling washers and dryers.


Currently it is almost impossible to rent an apartment without a free washer-dryer in the unit. The only exception are a few older buildings that have a common laundry room and most of these are free to use or operate for as little as a quarter per load.


When you buy a home here used or new they [ almost ] always come with a washer and dryer as well.


John L.

Post# 953191 , Reply# 22   8/17/2017 at 08:19 (401 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
My mom used to

send me to the local laundromat with an area rug that wouldn't fit in her 1963 turquoise Lady K. They had a rug washing machine there.
There weren't many apartments in the neighborhood, but that place was always busy.

I almost invested into one of those new Electrolux laundromats. A friend did, and it is a negative cash flow deduction for 5 years against real estate profits.
He says after that, if it is only a break even business, he'll close it.
The machines break down a lot, and with the rent and utilities, the 20% return Electrolux claims is not true.

Post# 953269 , Reply# 23   8/17/2017 at 17:03 (400 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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"When you buy a home here used or new they [ almost ] always come with a washer and dryer as well."

Comment had one thinking; back in the day when washing machines and dryers were still "major appliances" that cost dear; people often tended to take them along when moving house.

Fast forward to modern times with costs having gone down many simply just leave their old appliances behind and buy new for the next house. That or appliances are already there so something will have to go.

Post# 953274 , Reply# 24   8/17/2017 at 17:09 (400 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Cannot speak for elsewhere

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But here in NYC with its vast (and seemingly growing) homeless population finding a "sanitary" laundromat can be an issue. You truly just don't know who has been before do you?

If homeless aren't camped out as a way to find a warm or whatever indoors spot, they are loading their laundry fouled with god only knows what into washers. That is something which has been known to clear a launderette out rather quickly. Yelp reviews have complained of finding dried human waste in some laundromat washing machines in NYC.

Then there is the fact washers and or dryers leave laundry coated with hairs and other material that isn't yours. Did some blankets at our local and they came back covered in long blonde hairs, which obviously weren't ours.

Our local also for years now has a persistent whiff of mould around the washers. This started not a few months after a total renovation which included installation of new SQ front loaders. Since these machines do not have pumps or door boots the only major source of mould one can think of is the drains. They want cleaning and scrubbing out with disinfectant.

Post# 953412 , Reply# 25   8/18/2017 at 12:16 (400 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        
From an article in yesterday's Advocate

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Well, apparently they are still planning laundromats in certain places, perhaps in some instances not a step in the right direction. Exactly what is a "Kung Fu" themed laundromat?


"This winter, The Gangway, San Francisco's oldest gay bar in town, is closing down. The plans are to replace it with a Kung Fu themed laundromat"



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Post# 953416 , Reply# 26   8/18/2017 at 12:32 (400 days old) by henene4 (Germany)        
I'm kind of torn about that...

On the one hand: New machines, that's always awesome!

On the other hand: There can basicly never be enough bars around...

Post# 953443 , Reply# 27   8/18/2017 at 15:51 (400 days old) by brucelucenta ()        

I can tell you also about some old equipment that was coin op from an old laundry in the 50's. There was a 25 lb. semi automatic washer that did not extract. It washed and rinsed the clothes, but they were soppy wet and had to be put in the coin op extractor then for more $$$. I saw them at a used equipment place. There were two 25# Cook brand washers and one Cook brand extractor, all coin operated.

Post# 953468 , Reply# 28   8/18/2017 at 19:46 (399 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Ironically things may have come full circle

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Growth of home laundry appliance ownership/access, and or spread of laundromats helped kill off "family wash" commercial laundries.

Well at least here in NYC and other large metro areas people are willing to pay for someone to do their laundry regardless of if they have W&D in building and or laundryette nearby.

Running a laundry service versus doing drop off "service washes" would seem streets easier IMHO. You need far fewer machines I shouldn't think long as you can maximize capacity. Of course this means going back to marking/tagging washing and or using nets instead of doing individual loads in separate machines.

There are plenty of "laundry by the pound" places in Manhattan and other parts of NYC with no shortage of customers. Nearly all use wholesale commercial places to process the washing. These are the same places that also do shirts for $1.25 or whatever each.

Post# 953487 , Reply# 29   8/19/2017 at 00:46 (399 days old) by tolivac (greenville nc)        

Laundramats do OK in Greenville-its a college town.School is supposed to start Monday-I am sure the places are busy-washing clothes as students move in.

Post# 953551 , Reply# 30   8/19/2017 at 11:22 (399 days old) by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Is that where

cruise ships used to dock? "Gangway"

Post# 953588 , Reply# 31   8/19/2017 at 14:53 (399 days old) by pierreandreply4 (St-Bruno de montarville (province of quebec) canada)        
cruise ships with laudromat

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speaking of cruise ships with selfserve laundromat i know that some cruise ships have self serve laundromat i was on a princess cruise last year departing from los angeles the ship i was on the ruby princes had self serve laundromat with maytag top load washer dryer depending on the ships the washers and dryers might be maytag or speed queen but on the ruby princess it was maytag topload washers and dryers sometime ships might have both top and front load but it depends on the ships and not every cruise line have self serve laundry i know princess cruise have some

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Post# 954095 , Reply# 32   8/23/2017 at 01:46 (395 days old) by Stricklybojack (San Diego, CA)        

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Just saw this on Facebook:

Post# 961714 , Reply# 33   10/10/2017 at 11:10 (347 days old) by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        
Am I 'Rhymin' like Simon' here?

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The Laundromat is Still Alive 'N' Well, just look in your Hotel/Motel, here are some shots of one in Is-Rael:

And "ain't that a--" shame that I never took some pics of those new Speed Queens that made their way in the apartment complex my late-brother-in-law put in his 1st & last month's rent at just before becoming late- (deceased)...

(& someone there in Eilat decided to have some wine, while "There'll be time of for DRINKIN',--'TIL THE WASHIN'S DONE...!!!!")

-- Dave

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Post# 961726 , Reply# 34   10/10/2017 at 12:01 (347 days old) by iej (Ireland)        

They're almost entirely gone here in Ireland.

You get the odd one (like 3 in a city of 170,000 people) where you can do a "service wash" - just drop your laundry in and they do it and return it dried and folded. Mostly people seem to use them for things like large quantities or bed linen.

What is cropping up now though is outdoor laundromats dropped into places like gas stations and supermarket car parks.

Post# 961920 , Reply# 35   10/11/2017 at 09:00 (346 days old) by verizonbear (Glen Burnie )        
Baltimore's Laundry City 5 start landromat

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I have been there with a friend, the best way I can describe it is like the "Wegman's" of laundromats !!!

Huge!!! tons of machines, no one had to wait for a dryer ! Impeccably clean !! Staff very professional , very friendly !!! Free wifi !!

They have a shuttle service!!!

And best of all you can get married there !!! If I ever meet Mr Right ( unlikely at 58) I will have my wedding there lol .

They give cash rewards to kids with "A"s on their report card. And do a lot of community outreach.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO verizonbear's LINK

Post# 961928 , Reply# 36   10/11/2017 at 10:16 (346 days old) by pumpkina (California)        

What are (or were, as it were) "family wash" commercial laundries?

Post# 962036 , Reply# 37   10/11/2017 at 20:51 (345 days old) by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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There are two (maybe three) coinop outfits here.  Also the RV parks have machines for space-renters to use.  One of the coinops is a newly-built facility, opened sometime last year.  Have not been in but pass by on occasion.  All the washers may be frontloaders.  Air conditioned, and may have attendants and folding service.

Post# 962049 , Reply# 38   10/11/2017 at 23:12 (345 days old) by johnrk (BP TX)        
Good Laundromats

I went to college at age seventeen, and my first real purchase was at nineteen when I bought a GE FF pair in avocado, the smaller basket size and single speed, and a GE d/w to match. I always hated having to share a washer in dorms, unless one sat there with the clothes there was always some jerk tossing a Magic Marker in, etc. More than anything, it just felt rather like wearing someone else's clothes. Illogical, I know, but can't argue with a feeling. And how I wish I had that pair back!

In the small city in which I live just outside Houston, we are fortunate to have a laundromat still that I've had to use on occasion with breakdowns at home. They maintain the place, it's clean and there's always an attendant there when it's open. The machines certainly appear well-maintained. I actually used to use the place fairly often when I would travel a lot because I could take washable laundry there and they would charge by the pound, would fold for non-clothing type stuff, but the attendant also did fantastic ironing of jeans, casual shirts, stuff that didn't go to the dry cleaners.

Reading on here, I think it sounds like fun to have a laundromat where one could get light food and drink and have wi-fi. If I were eighteen again I'd sure head there!

Post# 962074 , Reply# 39   10/12/2017 at 06:42 (345 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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"What are (or were, as it were) "family wash" commercial laundries? "

In the old days many laundries offered various levels of service. Prices increased as you went up the ladder.....

Lowest was "family" or "wet" wash (different places used various terms, where laundry was machine washed and extracted, then either returned wet/damp (for ironing at home), or dried, folded and returned.

Wet wash or family wash appealed to housewives because it took much of the labor (those three days of soaking, washing, beating, scrubbing, wringing, etc...) along with the related damp and smells away. Family wash was usually cheaper because it didn't involve any ironing..

Moving up the ladder you had machine washed and ironed laundry, machine washed, machine ironed and touched up by hand, machine washed and hand ironed, washed and ironed by hand totally.

Today and for the past fifty years or so family wash usually means simply "wash and fold".

Post# 962107 , Reply# 40   10/12/2017 at 09:27 (345 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
On the few occasions when I must go to a laundramat,

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I figure out another solution. A manual carwash which is unattended so I can stretch out the item too big for one of our machines and clean it.

I would have to be homeless and desperate to use any of the filthy pigsties around our town. Not to mention the insane, criminals, druggies and generally horrid people who hang out at them.

This is why they're declining, pure and simple. They're scary, filthy and risky.


On a cheerier note - please do check out my post on this in Dirty Laundry.



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