Public Toilets, New York City
(work in progress)
To my mind, walking the High Line is one of the most interesting things to do in New York, and was one of the highlights of my most recent visit. However, if this is something that you're planning to do during your visit, then there are a few considerations that you'd be wise to bear in mind, especially if you have limited mobility and/or are visiting with children.
Firstly, a few points to note for those with limited mobility. The good news is that because it was a railway in its former life, the High Line itself pretty well flat and has been redesigned with ramps rather than steps to deal with slight changes in elevation, so that it is fairly easily negotiated by people pushing prams, pushchairs (strollers) or wheelchairs. The bad news is that access to the High Line is via fairly steep stairs, and whilst there are a few lifts (elevators) dotted along its length, at least two were not working at the time of my visit (October 2012). So if you have limited mobility and are planning to visit, be sure to check the website to determine which lifts are functioning so that you can plan accordingly.
Also be aware that the High Line walkway is very narrow – probably only a maximum width of about 3m along most of its length – and that it is extremely popular. Even visiting fairly early in the morning on a weekday in autumn, it was pretty busy, and I would not like to imagine how crowded it must get on a sunny summer weekend. Over peak periods, sheer pressure of numbers would make it difficult to negotiate with a wheelchair or pram, so if you’re in this situation, try to plan your visit for a less busy time, such as early in the morning or on a weekday rather than a weekend.
The High Line is fairly exposed and there’s also not much in the way of shade or shelter, so be sure to wear suitable sun protection if you’re lucky enough to visit when it’s sunny, including sunscreen and a bottle of water. If the weather is less charitable, then packing a waterproof and an umbrella would be a sensible precaution.
One other thing to bear in mind is that at the time of my visit (October 2012), there were no public toilet facilities anywhere along the High Line, and I know this for a fact as I was somewhat desperate by the time that I descended! So make sure to pay a visit to the facilities before you do the walk, particularly if you’re travelling with children.
i live in new york- and one annoying thing is that there are hardly and public restrooms. if you really have to go--find a busy starbucks or mcdonalds. they are on almost every block. that way, you can go in, nobody will notice you went in, and just go find the bathroom there. otherwise, you'd have to actually buy something at a restaurant just to use the bathroom. most regular stores don't let you use the bathroom. also, if you pass by a busy hotel, you can just walk in and use their bathrooms.
I found the public toilets aweful, at best they're old with brown spots here and there. In one that I ran into, the previous person couldn't aim the poop right.
The most that street people did to me was wiggle their cans with coins. The people who got in my face the most were those who asked for donations to save the whale, cure the cancer types.
And the people are mostly nice, I saw some business woman drop her stuff but I just walked by, thinking it was minor and she was ok to pick it up, but the first New Yorker to walk pass her helped her out.
Public bathrooms are not easy to find in New York City. It is generally best to stop at one as you find them, because with all the food and drink you'll likely consume on the streets, a bathroom will not emerge when emergencies arise. Good bets are the following: major subway stations especially those with AmTrak lines (like Grand Central Station); the concourses of major skyscrapers (Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, etc); the restaurants where you dine; the major museums; bookstores; Castle Clinton. In some cases there is a rare public restroom standing by itself, as in Washington Square Park. Restaurants usually have restrooms but often dislike catering to non-customers.
Make sure that you hit the restrooms every time you dine at a restaurant or visit a museum. There are very few public restrooms in New York City and few establishments allow one to use the restroom without purchasing something!!! (Your best bet may be to sneak into a hotel.)
I was very suprised when I went in the restroom in the Staten ferry terminal. There were so many people there but it seemed that nobody did what the nomorl people would do in the restroom. There were no door for the toilet. The facilities in the rstroom were almost broken. What a suprise it was!
Never use public toilets in train stations, bus stations or subways as they attract drug users and the homeless. Try to use toilets in restaurants or department stores.