When you gotta go: NYC to get 46 new public restrooms over next 5 years

Mayor Adams announces new public restrooms to be built
Mayor Eric Adams unveils plan to add 46 new public restrooms and refurbish another 36 over the next five years. Monday, June 3, 2024.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

New York does not have nearly enough public restrooms, as any resident desperate for relief can attest. But Mayor Eric Adams wants to help flush that problem down the drain with a new effort that he unveiled Monday.

Under the plan, dubbed “Ur In Luck,” Adams said the Parks Department will build 46 new public restrooms and renovate another 36 over the next five years.

During a Monday afternoon news conference, the mayor said that while the city already has over 1,000 public restrooms — more per capita than any other city in the country — it still does not have enough to serve New Yorkers in every situation.

Instead, people often wind up using bathrooms in private businesses, and (in many cases) have to buy something to gain access to the facilities.

“What we’re saying is that you should not have to be in luck, you should be able to move around the city as a human being, a parent, and find the right restroom facilities,” Adams said. “We all know the hustle, you know, I walked into many diners and said ‘Listen, I’ll buy a cup of coffee man, just let me use the john.’”

The new restrooms will be added across each of the five boroughs, with 10 in the Bronx, 23 in Brooklyn, 28 in Manhattan, 14 in Queens and seven on Staten Island, Mayor Adams said.

Parks Department Commissioner Sue Donoghue said the city will be able to install the new restrooms faster and with less difficulty than in the past. That’s due to a new “streamlined design,” which she said makes the facilities easy and less expensive to install.

Additionally, Donoghue said, the restrooms will have a smaller building footprint; be built with simplified materials; and powered by electric heat instead of gas. The modular structures are built offsite, she said, which allows for installation with minimal disruptions to the surrounding communities.

“By building restrooms off-site, we’re ensuring they can be installed quickly, where they’re needed most,” Donoghue said. “Since they are assembled off-site in a controlled environment, these units can also have a higher level of quality control.”

The 36 existing bathrooms due for renovations will get upgrades like additional stalls as well as accessibility and energy efficiency improvements, according to the city.

The city is also adding a new layer to Google Maps — which people can add on their phones — that shows the locations of public restrooms operated by entities like the Parks Department, the Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the city’s public libraries.

Meanwhile, the City Council is advancing a bill that would force the city to make progress on 151 new public bathrooms that it committed to build in 2022, according to a published report. So far, the city only advanced plans to install 55 of those restrooms.

When asked about it on Monday, Adams noted that the new faster methods to build and install the bathrooms should make some headway in relieving the council’s concerns.

“There’s just been this real stall when it came to building bathrooms,” the mayor said. “It costs a lot. It took too long. And it never really materialized … That’s what we’re tackling and zeroing in on.”