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New York Cool:

Where To Go Potty in New York
(New York Cool's Guide to Making It in New York)

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Mary Blanco
Modeled by Alison Becker.


You know the feeling. You are walking down the streets of New York and all of the sudden you just have to go. I mean you really have to go and there is nothing around that even vaguely resembles a public bathroom. So gotta go, what to do, gotta go, what to do?

Well, here it is: New York Cool’s first venture into public service with the publication our definitive guide to where to go and where not to go potty in New York City. And by New York City, we do mean downtown New York City where all of us New York Coolies either live or aspire to live (we are just as egocentric as other New Yorkers).

First, if you are from out of town, you need to know that there are no filling stations in Manhattan (at least not ones you would use) and the bathrooms in New York City’s McDonalds, Burger Kings and Starbucks are nothing like the ones back home. New York has a sizable homeless population and these fine establishments are performing their own version of public service by supplying bathrooms for the public. And downtown New York is notoriously short on department stores (we act like we don’t think they are cool enough for our neighborhoods) and until Bloomingdales opened, there were no department stores in Soho. So if you went shopping in Soho, you were either forced to leave after an hour or two or do go into an expensive restaurant, use their bathroom and order something to eat and drink. And since you just had something to eat and drink, as soon as you left you would need to go to the bathroom again and you were right back where you started. But take heart out-of-towners. New York City residents have the same problem; this is the main reason New Yorkers always look so cross.

Old Navy
Whole Foods

So where are the bathrooms? Well, all Gaps and Old Navy’s have bathrooms as does the before mentioned Bloomindales in Soho. They may be hidden, but if you ask, they tell. Also, the Whole Foods in Union Square ( 40 E 14th St) has a great bathroom and so does the Barnes and Noble in Union Square ( 33 E 17th St ) . And don’t forget the hotels. All hotels have public bathrooms in their lobby and you will be allowed to use them, but some of these hotels have intimidating looking doormen, so if you want to use the bathroom at the W Union Square or the Tribeca Grand Hotel, put on your window dressing and look like you could afford to stay there. (Alison changed her clothes before entering the W Union Square so she could would blend in). And that is ditto for restaurants. Real New Yorkers just barge into restaurants and use the bathroom and as they are leaving they say something off-hand like, “Oh, I didn’t find my friends. Maybe they’re still in jail.”

Also, real New York women never have a problem barging into a men’s room and either intimidating the men into leaving or not intimidating the men into leaving – take your pick. New York men have not become quite that cavalier about using the women’s room, although you can see some very tall, broad-shouldered, large adams-appled New York women in the women’s room.

Men's Room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel
Men's Room at the Tribeca Grand Hotel

If you are going to be in New York for a while, it would pay to locate the eighty public library branches. They all have bathrooms and the times and locations can be found at: The libraries also feature other valuable services like books.

Tribeca Grand Hotel
Tribeca Grand Hotel


So where is the best public bathroom in New York City? That New York Coolie goes out to the Tribeca Grand (2 Avenue of the Americas – just south of Canal) I discovered this gem during the Tribeca Film Festival and it is always immaculately clean and totally gorgeous and sexy. The Tribeca Grand also has one of New York’s best see-and-be-seen lobby bars, so if you use the bathroom you really should go into the bar and fill up again.

Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden
Tompkins Square Park Public Bathroom
Tompkins Square Park
Tompkins Square Park

And just for fun, we are also showing you some places where you should not go to the bathroom in downtown New York: The Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden ( and the public bathroom and lawn in Tompkins Square Park (located between 7 th and 9 th and A & B). If you need to use these places as a bathroom, you must either be terribly down on your luck or you are trying to reenact the Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis classic, The Out-of-Towners. Many apologies to Steve Martin and Goldy Hawn, but your 1999 remake of The Out-of-Towners didn’t quite remake and won’t be cited in our definitive guide to “Making It in New York. ”

If you would like to see more of Alison Becker, check out Fuse TV this spring. Alison will be anchoring the Fuse Action News.

Rock on!


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