You guys, I think this is a dream come true!
If you’re ever in NYC, especially if you’re a tourist, it’s not always easy to find a public toilet. Some places let anyone use the facilities, some only allow customers and clients to use them. You might go past a public restroom but not want to use it because based on smell and visuals alone, who knows what’s been going on in there. You may be in the middle of a residential area (they exist!) and just not know where the nearest bathroom that’s open to the public is. And let’s face it…sometimes when you gotta go, you gotta GO, right?
Well, Dr. Wansoo Im, who has his PhD in Urban Planning, has developed a fix for that. An Associate Professor at Meharry Medical College and a former Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University, Dr. Im is a pioneer of interactive, web/mobile-based Geographic Information Systems to support community-based participation and research on a wide range of social and environmental issues. Dr. Im’s projects have included nationwide watershed maps, maps of potential mosquito breeding grounds that could contribute to the spread of the Zika virus, and a mapping project of operating gas stations in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But the best project he’s worked on, at least for tourists, is the one where he’s developed a community participation-based interactive map of every available restroom in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.
New York Restrooms utilizes Google maps to show where each restroom is, so you’re able to scroll the map with the flick of a finger, touchpad or mouse (I’m old school – I still use a mouse), and zoom in and out to find bathrooms nearest to your location. Here’s how it works:
They use a key wherein the toilets are divided and color coded into categories:
Below is an example of the map, starting from the whole city and eventually zeroing in on the Times Square area.
Once you find a place to go, you can click on it to possibly get more information about its exact address, hours, etc (remember, it’s community-based so not all information may be available for all locations)
Here’s what we found for Famiglia Pizza, which is on 8th, between W. 43rd and W. 44th, when we clicked on “MORE”:
There are even filters available to narrow down your search, i.e. if you’re specifically looking for restrooms that are handicap accessible.
Overall, it’s a REALLY handy little thing. And what’s more, they have an app (only iOS flavor – sorry)! It works pretty much the way the websites does on a computer.
Of course, should you go to a location (such as a coffee shop or fast food place) that’s gracious enough to allow the public to use their restroom, you really should buy at least a little something – a coffee, soda, etc. It’s only right.
But meanwhile, I foresee this being a total lifesaver the next time we go to New York!
*** Thanks to Jenifer C. for the heads up about this topic!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary