On a typical weekday in Manhattan with native New Yorkers, commuers and tourists, the population usually swells to over 10 million people. And the supply of publicly funded is pitifully small, in other words there aren’t nearly enough. There are toilets in most public parks NYC Parks Public Toilets, police stations will let you use their toilet facilitites, public libraries and Museums have toilets of course and so does Grand Central Station and Penn Station. There are reputedly toilets at 78 subway station but good luck finding them. And that’s about it for publicly funded toilets.
Without Starbucks, McDonalds, Chipotle etc, most large department stores and hotels who let you use their toilets, you will be ‘caught short’ over and over again. Just last week the New York times ran an article Bathrooms at churches packed by tourists which was about 2 Lower Manhattan churches who provided ‘bathroom ministries’ to hordes of tourist visitng the WTC precinct. There are billions of dollars being spent on this precinct and yet public toilets are clearly not going to rate a dollar or two.
Private providers are tentatively entering the fray. The Posh Stow and Go crowd have their hearts in the right place and are planning their first private facility near Penn station but have not yet launched, though they hope to in 2014. And there is a Toilet/bathroom app which is available on both Android and Apple. There is also an online map nyrestroom.com which is a bit fiddly to use but all the information is there. There is also a book 40 Point guide to Peeing In New York which seems to be for people who are preapared to go free range and cower behind useful bits of scaffolding.
For aparents of younger children, anyone with a medical condition or a senior, the rule is think ahead. Wherever you are going, note the availibility of pulic parks, department stores, hotels or Starbucks. In other words don’t get too far away from a toilet if you think you are going to need one. And if you absolutely know you will need one, then note that Starbucks especially can get some long lines just because there are a lot of people trying to use a small number of toilets. Personally I have found large department store are the best port of call because their toilet areas are much larger than the ones you will find in Starbucks.