Public Toilets Hooray -- Maybe
September 24th, 2005

“It is much too soon to celebrate, but the Bloomberg administration has finally selected a company to install 20 public toilets in New York City,” proclaims an editorial in the New York Times. “If this seems laughable in a city of 8 million residents plus 40 million tourists a year, having 20 new high-tech public toilets by 2007 would certainly offer an improvement over having zero. And if the users, the city and the neighbors like them, maybe someday there will be enough.”

Miss Representation has more doubts, expressed more bluntly: “There don’t seem to be any details about the important stuff: where the 20 will go? Will there be token placements in the outer boroughs, reducing the Manhattan total (of course we expect them all to be in Manhattan) to 16? Will hipsters be mad or glad at emplacements on Bedford or Clinton? Will the UES get all NIMBY, worried about undesirables? Will Community Boards have a say, or veto, about the locations? This is a surefire recipe for disaster And is 20 all we get? If you are counting, that’s one per every 150,000 people (daytime population). If so, you’d better get in line now. Should 20 minutes be allotted to each client, you won’t get your turn for something like 5 years, give or take a few months.”

Gothamist asks whether that is why the city took down the Astor Place cube — to replace it with a public toilet? And Keith comments skeptically on the Gothamist post that “a self-cleaning public toilet doesn’t sound like anything but a challenge to New York. I’m sure the citizens will find a way to make it as scummy and disgusting as everything else.”

Barry Campbell of the enrevanche blog had a simpler, and far less cynical, reaction: “And the heavens opened, and the angels sang…I will be following this story with considerable interest.”

It might be a bit humbling to contrast NYC’s baby potty steps with far more cosmopolitan cities, such as Beijing, which not only has finished upgrading 1,100 of its public toilets in preparation for the 2008 Olympics — in what the Beijing Times reportedly has called “the largest toilet revolution in its history…” — but it also played host to something called the World Toilet Summit in 2004. The 2005 World Toilet Summit begins Monday in Belfast, according to the World Toilet Organization

Meanwhile, back in provinicial NYC, while waiting for the public toilets, there is a Web site that offers a list of available rest rooms in restaurants etc. by neighborhood

By on September 24, 2005, 11:07 am
In category: Environment,Health,Land Use,Transportation | Comments Off on Public Toilets Hooray -- Maybe

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