We recently did a very brief history of the fitted kitchen inIs It Time To Rethink the Built-In Kitchen?. For those who want a bit more information, Core77 has produced six parts of a history of the kitchen, starting with the work of Catharine Beecher (sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe), who was one of the first to lay out a kitchen for ergonomic efficiency. More in Part 1: Pre-standardization.
More on Kitchen Design:
The Kitchen of the Future Today
Counter Space: How The Modern Kitchen Evolved
Is It Time To Rethink the Built-In Kitchen?
Part 2 covers the introduction of gas and water to the kitchen, but notes that it was still a hodge-podge of mismatched components.
The widespread installation of running water in the 19th century provided a huge boon to kitchens, because now you had this big magical white thing that you could fill with water without having to carry a bucket to that well down by the Johnsons' house. Unsurprisingly, sinks became a focal point of the kitchen. They were also huge, heavy and difficult to move, which gave rise to the expression "Everything but the kitchen sink," meaning if you were going to clear out of your house and take everything you could carry or move, the cast-iron kitchen sink would not be one of those things.
Part 3 introduces Frederick Winslow Taylor and his stopwatch, which leads directly to Christine Frederick and her string studies, and the work of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, who invented the Galley kitchen. See A Brief History of Kitchen Design, Part 4: Christine Frederick's "New Housekeeping" and Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen
Part 5 covers the introduction of the modern kitchen company: Poggenpohl's Early Influence, 1892-1923 and part 6 continues with Poggenpohl Transforms the Kitchen from Workshop-like to Hospital-like.
This really is blogging at its best, telling a story in some detail while breaking it up into digestible bits. Watch for more at Core77.