New York City is a cruel and unforgiving place. Our subways are loud, dark and smelly. Our buildings–if they’re not new, glistening glass condominiums–are falling apart and randomly exploding. New Yorkers are often left to their own devices for a lot of things (nothing like that good ole’ self-sustaining American work ethic!), and as you may have noticed while traipsing around the five boroughs, there aren’t a lot of places to pee in this city that aren’t Starbucks.
It’s no surprise that NYC city government chambers aren’t flooded with bills aimed at funding a public restroom crisis (city coffers are pretty stretched anyway, just Google MTA), but luckily, a Graphic Information Services firm called Vertices has taken the onus on themselves to chart every single *public bathroom in the city.
The asterisk hovering above the phrase “public bathroom” is intentional, because it roughly translates to park bathroom–a term that elicits trepidation at childhood memories spent in grimy stalls where guaranteed horror lurked.
If you look at the map, Manhattan is flooded with parks and playgrounds, and their accompanying bathrooms are as ubiquitous as things like seesaws and monkey bars. New York City has roughly 1,700 parks riddled throughout its streets according to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which means something like five times as many urinals and toilets (that’s just a guess, I’m not a scientist).
So if you adhere to the principal of a truly free and open NYC public restroom, you’ll likely find yourself wading through games of dodgeball on the way to relieving yourself. Otherwise, you’ll be carrying cumbersome bathroom keys or asking baristas for bathroom door combinations–shelling out small increments of cash to not look like a freeloading toilet-stealer.
But even still, Vertices’ map can help in that regard, as it lists categories of bathroom-available bookstores, coffee shops, hotels and even a grouping filed as “other,” which is mostly comprised of police precincts (you probably shouldn’t try to pee in one of those though).
So give the toilet mapper a whirl. And if you don’t find yourself within walkable vicinity of a playground or park, don’t despair. There’s likely a corporate coffee house with a cleaner bathroom just around the corner.