What's the deal with NYC's public restrooms?

Why are public restrooms so important?

In an official report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012, a top UN investigator said that the United States' failure to provide homeless persons access to water an sanitary facilities "could ... amount to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment." Simply put, having safe, clean bathrooms accessible to all people makes healthier cities and more equitable living conditions.

What is New York City currently doing to create more public restrooms?

While New York's public parks provide frequently used public restrooms, often these restrooms are unsanitary, out of the way, and few and far between. Over a decade ago, New York City made a deal for 20 automated public toilets to be installed in all five boroughs— however, all but three of these automatic and self-cleaning sit in a warehouse in Queens waiting to be deployed.

Wait—New York City has paid for and built the public restrooms already?

Yes. The much needed restrooms are sitting, unused, in a warehouse— and have been for years. The reason why— “The city Department of Transportation said finding locations to install the bathrooms has been challenging over the past 10 years due to access to utilities and community support.” (CBS New York)

What can I do to make sure New York City gets the public restrooms it needs?

Raise your voice and ask that New York City makes clean, safe, accessible public restrooms a priority, much like Portland did in 2006. Sign this petition asking that the NYC DOT find places for those undeployed restrooms to go— and make it known that there is active community support.


#RestroomsForAll is a site that shows where current public restrooms in NYC, and hopes to promote activism for more clean, safe, accessible public restrooms. It was started by Natalie Lew’s Adobe Creative Residency project.

  • Research and Design Natalie Lew
  • Web Development Meredith Lampe
  • Illustration Abe Poultridge


Interested in what we’re working on? Have a question about public restrooms for us? Looking for more ways to get involved?

Feel free to write to us at restroomsforall@gmail.com with any questions, comments or concerns.