subway bathrooms-nyc-untapped cities
Astor Place, 6 Train

We have already Untapped the mystery of some public bathrooms in New York City, but we’re still curious about the ones you can find in many subway stations. Out of NYC’s 468 subway stations, only 129 of them claim to have restrooms. With the help of YouTube user Eron Watt, we’ve verified that only 48 of these lavatories were unlocked. The rest of these appear to be locked, repurposed for storage, or converted into convenient newsstands like the one shown below. Here’s the dirty low-down on what awaits you behind the few unlocked doors of subway bathrooms.

 So, it seems that there are three ultimate fates for the city’s restrooms. Firstly those that remain in use, albeit in a disheveled state, were documented by our friend Eron Watt whose quest to document NYC’s subway bathrooms stretched five years, from 2009 to 2014.

After reaching out to him when discovering his video, he responded “I started searching the internet to see if the NYC Subway System had and still has restrooms that are open for the public. I had this crazy idea of making the first video on the internet that showed many of the restrooms of a subway system.”

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14th Street, between the 1/2/3 and the F/L

He also said he was surprised to hear the news of a man dying while relieving himself between moving cars and one who died while doing the same on the third rail. He writes, “Those guys would have been alive today if they saw this video. Oh well.” Eron also put together the above subway map of the 45 bathrooms he visited up until 2012, including an additional 3 rooms on this updated map released in 2014. This guy knows subway bathrooms.

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The second fate for NYC subway restrooms are the ones that have been repurposed. Some transit workers are currently using using former stalls as locker rooms, equipment stock, or other general storage. Many of these rooms are now unmarked and a lot of them remain locked. You can spot these rooms rather easily, as they often have two parallel doors (presumably former male/female restrooms).

MTA Subway-Closed-Repurposed Bathrooms-NYC-001Chambers Street

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The Times Square bathroom is manned by an actual person and there’s a “5 minute time limit”:

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Finally, many bathrooms in the NYC subway have been completely remodeled and changed into newsstands, and other retail spots. The one shown above in Astor Place is a full fledged subway newsstand!

More scatological fun: check out the coolest and quirkiest public bathrooms in New York City. Also check out the maps of subway stations that have Wi-Fi and the best coffee shops in the vicinity of each subway station in Manhattan, Brooklyn & QueensGet in touch with the author @uptownvoice.

9 thoughts on “Hold It In: Why Are Most Bathrooms in the NYC Subway Locked?

  1. I used to go to Greenpoint Hospital as a little girl, what ever happened to my hospital?

  2. I am writing a book on the subject myself: NYC- “The City WIth No Public Bathrooms.”

  3. Thanks! Well done informational bit on those ‘glorious’ bathrooms in the NYC subway system …a’hem, I’ll just show myself out.

  4. You forgot to mention that the much needed bathrooms that are being used for storage have — a place to lie down, take a nap, rest, play with your phone — all on the part of New York City Transit employees. You are very likely to find such amenities as a microwave, coffee maker, etc. Amd we, who suffer from urinary incontinence), are forced to urinate under a stairwell – illegal, disgusting, but hey, the bathroom 20 feet away is locked up. A bit of history….when the bathrooms were closed in the ’70’s the reason given was that they were a magnet for hold ups. Well, back then it was a dubious claim, today to cite crime would be laughable.

  5. No mention of homeless people camping out in stalls as the reason for shutting down most of these bathrooms? I’m betting that was a contributing factor.

    1. The bathrooms were locked up in the mid-70’s when there wasn’t a homeless problem. The official reason was that they bred crime – there was a lot of crime back then.

      1. I’m old enough to remember that, women were getting raped in the ladies rooms and drug deals were going in the men’s rooms. There was a lot of crime in the City in the 1970s.

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