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Dueling Toilets

I’ve recently been reading up on public toilets in New York City (hey, someone’s got to do it) and have uncovered, supposedly, the best public bathroom in New York City and the worst. And the funny thing about it is, they’re right next to each other! Kind of like a bathroom version of Goofus and Gallant.

According to this online article in Reuters,
Virtual Tourist, an online travel website, named the public restroom in Bryant Park, not only the best in New York, but the best public bathroom in the world! There must be some high class porcelain thrones in there!

The flip side of this toilet tale can be found over at Atlantic Cities where writer Eric Jaffe has named the men’s room in the New York Public Library as the worst public toilet in New York City. Here’s a line from his article: “Where to begin with that men's room. For starters, it's in the most remote part of the building. That's great for the smell, which is potent by early afternoon, but it also means you're slightly out of breath from climbing the stairs to get there, and therefore inhaling more generous drags of this odor than you'd prefer.” Yikes, that sounds bad!

So today I thought we’d check out the best and the worst that New York City has to offer in public toilets. It’s an assignment that’s flush with possibilities!

It's a nice day, so I thought we'd just walk up there. Straight up Sixth to 41st Street and we're there.

And here we are at Bryant Park. It's a lovely day in the park.

Hello! Is the outside bar open?

It sure is! Friendly bartender, Romulo pours me a beer. He told me the bar was open all winter and he's working today as well. If you're in the area, stop by and say hi. Tell him I sent you and maybe you'll get a discount, or maybe he'll charge you double, who knows?

Alright, I've had a couple of beers, and I'm ready to go, in more ways than one. Time to test out the fabled public restrooms here at the park.

Here it is, the public restroom at Bryant Park. Is it me, or is it leaning a little bit to the right?

This building houses both the women and men's toilets.

Well, the front room certainly is nice, check out the fresh paint and the flower pot. Nice! It smells like a garden in here. The Men's room is to the right, let's go check it out.

As you can see, the urinals are very popular in here. Everything's very clean  for a public restroom. Let's go check out a stall, I think I'm making some people nervous with my camera. I'm just glad that Larry Craig's not in here, that could be trouble!

Wow, this is the cleanest public toilet I've ever seen! If it was filled with beer, I'd be tempted to make like Marmaduke and drink out of it!

This is a nice feature, a button that automatically revolves the plastic on the toilet seat.

The sinks are just as spotless as the toilets and there's fresh cut flowers in here as well. Nice!

Usually I'm not a big hand dryer fan, I prefer a towel, but these things are amazing. It's like they have a jet engine in them and your hands are dry in seconds. This was a wonderful toilet time experience!

Okay, just around the block from Bryant Park is the New York Public Library, supposedly the home of the worst public toilet in New York City. Let's go see if this is true.

The revolving doors will lead us into the library.

Eric Jaffe wrote that it was in a remote part of the library and he was right. I had to walk up three flights of stairs, then zig-zag down multiple sets of hallways, got lost a number of times, had to ask directions twice and I finally found it.

At last, here it is.

Okay, time for the moment of truth. Whoa, I just got hit by a whiff of stink from this place! I wish I had a gas mask, I have a feeling it's not going to be pretty in here.

Unflushed and dirty! This is one bad looking urinal.

Oh my God! Check out the toilet in the stall. It's filthy, clogged up with toilet paper and it smells worse than Gary, Indiana after a bean eating contest.

The floor is filthy and I don't even want to know what that wet substance is. I feel like I'm going to get sick, but I don't even want to vomit in here.

The weirdest thing is that among the dirt, the stench, the filth and probably every germ know to man, there's a drinking fountain in here! I don't care if I was dying of thirst, I would not quench it in here!

And it's down into another toilet of sorts, the New York subway system.

Lovely. And now for the ratings!

Bryant Park Men’s Room Overall Ratings:
Smell—Flowery and fresh. Kind of like Snow White had just farted in there.
Ambiance—Nice, the fresh cut flowers are a wonderful touch.
Force of the flush—Forceful, but it’s automatic, which I guess is nice, but it kind of creeps me out.
Hand washing facilites—Clean sinks and hand dryers that are turbo-like and dry your hands in seconds.
TWM Toilet Rating: Four out of four Ty-D-Bol Men.
Summation: Excellent! A royal urination station if ever there was one!


New York Public Library Men’s Room Overall Ratings:
Smell—Pretty gross. Kind of a combination of a homeless wino who hasn’t bathed in seven years mixed with the smell of stagnant ass.
Ambiance—The hole that the Senator’s daughter was imprisoned in, in Silence of the Lambs. “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”
Force of the flush—I wasn’t about to touch anything in there, much less the toilet flusher!
Hand washing facilites—Once again I didn’t use them, but there was a drinking fountain next to them that probably outputs rat piss if you try to take a drink.
TWM Toilet Rating: One out of four Ty-D-Bol Men
Summation: Bad! I wouldn’t take a dump in here with my worst enemy’s ass.

Further Reading: NYC Public Toilet Map, The Bathroom Diaries and Gothamist.

Dirty words for dirty minds,
Written in a toilet town.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you! (Warning: CBBM mutation sighting...Aaaahhhh!)

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Reader Comments (55)

Without a doubt, the most disgusting thing you've ever done ! Yay for Bryant Park though !

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

another classic post! you dare to "go" where others don't! lol! the rating system was hilarious!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D

Didn't Bonnie Bramlett haul off and knock the crap out of a drunken Elvis Costello once, back in the day? And who was the architect responsible for designing the Bryant Park Restroom...Elvira Mistress of the Dark? "Welcome darling....(que the spooky music)".

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

Why didn't you play "Yellow River" by I. P. Daily,,,,,lol

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

You truly are the George Michael journalist of public restrooms.

Employees must wash hands before they go, go. Especially if you're cooking some fries.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

omg. this is truly one of the most brilliant NY posts EVER. omg. Which makes me think about the women's bathroom at Stillwell Avenue and all the subway bathrooms my family used. memories.... like the shadow of my....

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterco

Marty - Did you get any good phone numbers off the stall door?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

I just puked on my waffles! Thanks for the morning toilet post! Happy late Birthday Marty! Cheers and Beers!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterProfessor Dungpie

@GENE: Hey, someone's got to do it! And that bathroom in Bryant Park definitely deserves a yay!

@Bobby D: Thanks! And I only "went" in one of them, and I think you can guess which one!

@Jaws: Yeah, Bonnie Bramlett slugged Elvis Costello years ago in a bar for making a derogatory racial remark about Ray Charles. He did apologize later, said he was drunk and only said it to get away from her. And you're right about the Bryant Park building, bet it looks spooky at night!

@Al: Ha ha ha! I'll consult you about music the next time I do a toilet tour!

@csp: Wake me up before I go, go!

@co: Thanks! I've never used or seen a bathroom in the subways, but many of them look and smell like toilets, especially in the summer!

@Terry: No numbers, but someone did write: "Call the BBC for a good time!"

@Professor Dungpie: You should know better than to eat waffles while reading a post here! Thanks for the birthday wishes, but that's really just an April Fool's thing for Warren. Cheers and 8769 beers to you!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Hahahahahahahahahaha....good one

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

Stupid Me....i should have known!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterProfessor Dungpie

Ahh happy memories:

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

God, do I remember the bathrooms of NYC.. My next book will be "Bathroom Trysts" from Noble Romance Books, should be out in the summer of 2012. A young man walks into the bathrooms all around the city and what he finds there...well, you'll have to read the book, besides just taking a whizz ahhhh...

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk

@Terry: Glad you liked that!

@Professor Dungpie: No worries, just have another beer, my friend!

@Spike: Great clip! Thanks for the link! "Boris" and I were just talking about that movie last night after I told him about this bathroom post.

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: Looking forward to reading that book, Mick!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

BAHAHAHAHHA!!! YES!!! Ty-D bowl man!!!!!! I'm quite partial to the 2000 flushes guy.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

On the top floors of The Chrysler Building , Walter P. Chrysler had his office and private residence. He boasted, at the time, that he had the highest throne (toilet) in the world. In 1929.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

Great investigate reporting today, Jimmy Olsen!
'Urine Trouble' if anyone has a 'George Costanza Moment' and brings a book into that library bathroom.
(i'd never touch a book at the library again, not that I frequent too many anyhow)
The water fountain is a bizarre addition.
However, the Bryant Park Restroom is amazing.
Nicer than some bathrooms in people's homes I have been in.
The 'Trainspotting' and 'Desperado' bathroom scenes remain two of the 'worst' in recent movie memory.
I'll have to see if I can find the 'Desperado' one.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

@Lindsay: I haven't seen the Ty-D-Bol man in a long time, I think someone flushed at a bad time! He sleeps in the sewer!

@JHWang: I've never heard that one! I'd get dizzy doing my business up there!

@"Boris:" Ha ha ha! Love that George Costanza reference, one of my favorite Seinfelds of all time! I need to watch that Desperado movie, I'll see if Netflix has it. Great yakking with you last night!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Thanks, Marty!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Grant

I usually read the blog while in bed at night on my iPhone via my RSS reader. Today, I saw you tweet and decided to read it while at work. Thank god I did. This trip was nasty. The bonus puke shot at the end was the icing on the cake. I'd have gagged in bed and my wife would have asked what I was doing and I would have had to explain that I read this blog where this guy goes around and takes pictures of stuff and eats things and drinks beer and she would have asked why and I would have said, well, because he's awesome and the blog is different than 99% of the other crap on the web and she would have told me to go to sleep and then ask why I needed to write a run on sentence and I'd have no answer.

I do like how you branch out and hit other places.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan

@Hugh Grant: You're welcome, glad to be of service here!

@Dan: Too funny! Glad you read it at work, it would've caused nightmares for you tonight! Well, it still may! Thanks for the nice words about the blog!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Here are some classics, but the 'Desperado' scene is difficult to find online...

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"


That 1st bathroom really IS the nicest public restroom, ever!

That 2nd bathroom? I am scrubbing my eyeballs with bleach after looking at those photos.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

Haha, I love this post!

I agree, Bryant Park is one of the best-kept city secrets. I've even used that one to prepare for some job interviews. I had no idea about the NYPL...but I'd say a couple of the worst public bathrooms are the one in the stairs in the middle of Central Park, and the one in the subway station at Stillwell Ave. I had such a bad experience in the one at Washington Square Park about ten years ago, I've never been back. Maybe you could check on that one and make up a city guide to decent bathrooms.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGoggla

That can in the Main Branch NYPL is pretty bad, but the one in the lending library across the street is even worse. I know that would have screwed up your premise, I'm just pointing it out in the spirit of Investigative Urinialism.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNed Sparks

You obviously never been in one of the old subway restrooms.They never had any toilet paper and were custom made for muggers

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris

Good post Marty.Can't believe I'm taking time to talk about toilets and I can't believe you got away with taking a photo of the guys in the Bryant Park urinals.Brave on the spot reporting there! I've been in the Bryant Park restroom and it's very well maintained.I was in the Washington Square Park toilet last year early one morning and a homeless guy had his pants down at his ankles, washing his dick in the sink.I didn't take any pictures but the image is burnt into my brain for ever!

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Simpson

I should add that my book, "Bathroom Trysts'' (Noble Romance) takes place in the early 1960s before homosexuality was accepted and so well known, with the majority of my male characters closeted and not accepting what they were doing, fleeing into regret and shame afterwards. Nowadays who would blink an eye?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk

@"Boris:" Great linkage, thanks, Daddio!

@Meleah: I scrubbed my whole body after being in there!

@Goggla: I am going to start compiling a list and make this a regular feature! If anybody else has toilets, good or bad, that they want me to check out, let me know!

@Ned Sparks: "Investigative Urinialism." HA HA HA! That's great! I'll add the lending library to my list.

@chris: I said in the comments above you that I had never been in a subway bathroom. These weren't my picks, just two I found online. I'll try and find a subway bathroom to do on next toilet tour. If you know of a particularly good one, let me know!

@Alan Simpson: Yikes, that's some scary imagery from Washington Square Park!

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: Sounds like an interesting trip back in toilet time! I'll put up a link for your book when it comes out!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I've used the automatic public restroom in Herald Square. (It was an EMERGENCY!)
The entire experience was disconcerting. The unit appeared clean enough, but the concept was terrifying.
You "rent" time in 3 minute increments. So, you put your quarter in a slot, and the door magically opens.
So why the terror? Well I was squatting/hovering over a toilet trying to mentally guesstimate how much time I was
taking. (While eliminating my emergency.) When the rented three minutes are up, the door magically opens whether you are finished or not. Hi park.

The prototype units are across from a Chock Full of Nuts hut. (At least they were.) Sure as Harold is your uncle.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Who needs a toilet when you've got the train station?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

P(is)S: Excellent post! And I, too, love those hand dryers. They make my skin go all warbly like that dude's face in the black and white educational video from the '50s. You know the one...where his eyeballs are covered and he's in that speed thingamabob and his lips practically separate from his face? Or also that old Maxell commercial.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

haha! just cleaned my toilet thanks! Great post Marty lol

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuben Dutch

@csp: Three minutes? What a shitty deal, pun fully intended! I have to go see if they still have them, I'll add them to the list (which is growing, by the way!) And Bob’s your uncle!

@Biff: "P.(is)S." Ha ha ha! You still gots it, Bifferoonie! I remember that Maxell ad!

@Ruben Dutch: Ha! Perfect timing!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

@csp - christ! is there no way to re-up your time inside for those certain special emergencies!?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

@Spike - Maybe? I don't think I was in a position to really move. I've kind of PTS blocked it all out.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Great idea, but be careful with that camera. You could do a whole separate blog on this (well maybe - ugh...). Agree with others about subway "restrooms" though - much, much worse! After the Kings Highway challenge I'm not even going to suggest subway bathooms, but ...
I like to use Whole Foods for restroom needs - the only reason to visit ...

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteronemorefoldedsunset

Marty, your blog is going to pot -just joking, couldn't resist.

If you really need to find a clean bathroom in Manhattan calmly walk into any major hotel and act like you belong there. All of them have a public restroom off the lobby.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

Marty, I was always amazed at how clean the Bryant Park Restroom was. I used to eat lunch in Bryant Park in the Summer when I worked for AGT in the Conde Nast Building.
C.B.G.B.s had the worst bathroom's, but now it's just a memory.
The coolest bathroom I was ever in is at the lobby bar at the Royalton Hotel.You step up to this big rock wall & then this waterfall comes raining down to wash your pee away.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny the Freelancer

@onemorefoldedsunset: I actually went to a subway "Men's Room" today after putting this post up! I'll put the photos up Saturday in the Blooper Reel. And yes, the toilet at Whole Foods is the only reason to go there! Hopefully the line to the bathrooms aren't as kooky as their checkout lines!

@DaveW: Ha ha ha! Thanks for the hotel suggestion, I'll include them in upcoming posts.

@Danny the Freelancer: C.B.G.B's was bad,so was Mars Bar, sadly they're both gone! I'll put the Royalton on the list, thanks!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

NYC subway bathroom scene from “The Warriors”. Probably not a location shot, was filmed in the Astoria Studios (I think) but still a classic.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDuncester

@Duncester: Thanks for that link! A classic indeed!

April 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty


April 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertehennessey

Not sure if they've changed it but a couple of years ago I ate at Hill Country BBQ and they had by far the worst bathroom I have ever been in. Unisex yet! I can't imagine how a woman could have possibly gone in there and sat down.

Best: Old Town Tavern, oh those urinals...Plus it's probably the only bathroom in NY that ever had a birthday party for itself.


April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen K. in NJ
April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpike

Does The Strand bookstore still have its bathroom? The one with the tank up on the wall that you flush with a chain? Always one of my favorites. The ladies' room at Rubys on the boardwalk used to have the remnants of a padded seat on the toilet. It was torn and filthy and I learned to hover like I'd never hovered before.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrink

@tehennessey: Watch out where those huskies go!

@Ken K. in NJ: I'll check out Hill Country in the future, lots of toilet to check out! Old Town Tavern's urinals rule! Thanks for that link!

@Spike: Great link! I went there on the bar crawl!

@Katrink: I'll see about the Strand bathroom, I've never gone in there, although I won't be able to check out the ladies room, maybe you can come here and do a special assignment for me. Speaking of Ruby's, there's an urban legend that someone fell through the floor years ago in the men's room into a pile of shit and rats! Never have found out if that's true or not, but it's scary to think about!

April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

The Bryant Park bathroom is run by a private not-for-profit corporation, that's why it's well-maintained. Also, that bathroom was comparable to the one in Tompkins Square Park, up until the early to mid-90's.

If one needs to use a decent toiletin NYC, here's an esquared secret that I rarely share: all the restrooms in the NYC public institutions, e.g. NYPL, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Opera, The Museum of Natural History, etc., are public, i.e. anyone can use them without having to purchase an admission ticket. But not for the private institutions/museums such as The Guggenheim, The Frick Collection, Neue Galerie..., unless it's really an emergency or if one has Crohn's disease. Department stores -- Saks Fifth, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lord and Taylor, et. als.. -- also have restrooms that the public can use. And there are hotel lobbies restrooms, though most in NYC, one must need a hotel key o use them. And there's the pay-per-use self-cleaning toilets at Herald Square and there was one at Madison Square Park.

But who needs a toilet if there's the pee phone.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteresquared

@esquared: Thanks for this toilet directory! A nice listing for those on the "go!" And I love the pee phone link!

April 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I once took acid at the berkeley bart station.. i hung out in the bathroom for probably far too long
it was grose and the acid made it grow.
i have a fear of most public bathrooms now LOL
but when ya gotta go..
that linkage from "B" is perfect.. that trainspotting scene haunts me to this day.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

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