Sunday, December 13, 2009

Potty poopers

From the NY Times:

The fancy new toilets didn’t work out.

The state-of-the-art French automated self-cleaning pay toilets at Herald and Greeley Squares, unveiled in January 2001 with fanfare befitting a papal visit, worked about 90 percent of the time.

But that was not enough, said Daniel A. Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, the business improvement district that runs the two triangular parklets north and south of West 34th Street and Broadway.

Besides, the toilets were a beast and an expense to maintain. Annoyingly, they needed a two-minute break between each user for the nozzles and sprays to do their thing. Most important, they never quite caught fire: Between the 25-cent entrance fee and what focus groups described as a profound mistrust of automation in the toilet sphere, use steadily dropped from 28,000 visits the first year to fewer than half that in 2007.

“It wasn’t a bad experience,” Mr. Biederman said. “It just wasn’t a great experience, and we wanted it to be great.”

And so, even as the city rolled out the first of its planned 20 automated pay toilets (different manufacturer; possibly fewer problems) with equal fanfare last year, the 34th Street Partnership, leader in the postmodernization of the urban public restroom, was bravely turning back the clock.

In May 2008, the partnership quietly shut down the A.P.T.’s.

This past summer, it replaced them with bathrooms cleaned the old-fashioned way: by hand.

And now, after a soft opening and a few months working out kinks, the 34th Street Partnership is proud to present what Mr. Biederman calls “a quality deluxe manual restroom experience.”

Photo from Bridge and Tunnel Club


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Speaking of crap
I can’t think of any French technology worth one.

Wine dont count

Anonymous said...

Attendants are good safety precautions as well as a source of jobs. In Europe, you pay to use the toilets and at first I resented it until I realized that they were clean, safe and universally available.

Pissed Off said...

Those bathrooms are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I made poo poo in one.

Anonymous said...

What is it with this DUMB country and public bathrooms?

They have been desperately needed in Manhattan for 50 years.

By having an attendant and apolice presence it would be safe, and the cost well

It the same argument I've had for years with stupid bar have to air condition your bathrooms the colder the better.

People will refresh themselves wipe off the sweat dry their underarms and stay in your bar 20 minutes longer and buy at least 1 more multiply that by 100-200-300 drinks a night

John Loo said...

I made poo poo in one.

No shit!

Anonymous said...

With McDonals and Burger Kind on every corner who needs a public restroom? These places are glorified free public restrooms with a side business of selling junk food.

Anonymous said...

I have used these type of bathrooms in Europe before. Even at Octoberfest they were clean and worked great. They should be all around the city , we are so seriously.

Anonymous said...


They went to a "Manual experience" so as to give union work to union members - only they can clean toilets and not automated after each use- -good luck now, encountering a clean toilet - tis all!