New York, NY —
The first public restroom was opened in Madison Square Park with great fanfare. With the cluster of press there near the shake shack, you might have thought Bono was preparing for a free concert, but a "potty for the people" in New York is an even rarer thing. It certainly has taken awhile; efforts have been underway since pay toilets were outlawed in the state in 1975.
Finally after six years of lawsuits and complicated negotiations, the Bloomberg administration has triumphed. Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff might not have scored the Olympics for the city, but said he was proud to man the "first flush" as his last official act before leaving office tomorrow.
The commode itself is spare, made of stainless steel and for twenty five cents you get fifteen minutes before lights flash, the doors open and the automatic cleaning function is activated.
The toilets are part of a contract with the Spanish advertising firm Cemusa. They'll be open daily from 8am to 8pm. For WNYC, I'm Kathleen Horan