What you gotta go, you gotta go. And unfortunately, it’s never been super easy to find free places to “go” in New York City.
Way back when, I wrote a piece about a handy app that showed tourists where to find free public restrooms in the Big Apple. Using Google maps, NY Restrooms (which had computer, iOS and Android versions) was simple to use and had quite a lot of detail.
Unfortunately, in checking back on the app, it looks as if NY Restrooms been abandoned. The computer versions still include locations that didn’t survive the pandemic (well-known spots, such as the Hotel Pennsylvania, and the Barnes & Noble at Rockefeller Center, for example), the Google Play app hasn’t been updated since 2020, and the iOS version no longer even exists.
Not to worry, though – you still won’t have to “go” in the streets just yet.
Teddy Siegel, an opera student at Mannes School of Music at the New School in Manhattan, had a “gotta go NOW!” emergency during the summer of 2021. She managed to find a restaurant that let her use their toilet (but only after she bought a bottle of water). It inspired her to create a TikTok account called got2gonyc to document New York’s publicly accessible restrooms. Since it began, the account has garnered over 130,000 followers, and 2.2 million likes.
Typical entries look like this:
J. Crew in the Flatiron district:
Reply to @langleycrisp save this for later 😉 #nyc
Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square:
Reply to @kthix11 another place to pee for free in times square! #nyc #ibs #ibstiktok #newyorkcity #nyclife #nycbathroom
Barnes & Noble in Union Square
Reply to @beneidle this is my go to bathroom in NYC (on the 2nd AND 3rd floor) #nyc #newyorkcity
Bryant Park public restroom on the Upper West Side
highly recommend if you’re on the upper west side & got2go
The site has dozens upon dozens of entries (there’s also a version on Instagram, but it doesn’t look as if it’s updated as often). Of course having to scroll for the toilet closest to you could take a while. So Siegel has also developed a map with over 1,100 bathrooms across all 5 boroughs of New York City (heads up that for the map to work, you need to be signed into google maps and be using the google maps app).
The map is not quite as user-friendly as the aforementioned NY Restrooms; you can’t filter locations out by category or if they have handicapped accessibility, for example. But it’s still a decent reference and frankly, when cross referenced with NY Restrooms (which still exists; it’s just out of date), you may have the best of both worlds.
Got2gonyc, like NY Restrooms before it, uses crowdsourcing for its growth. Right now, Siegel continues to get dozens of new locations every week, and she’s still adding new spots (as of this writing, her last update was 7 hours ago). Hopefully that will continue for a long time to come.
As a side note, there are a couple of other sites that show NYC restrooms:
Toodleloonyc (last updated November, 2022)
We Can’t Wait (specifically for those with Crohn’s & Colitis) (app last updated 1 month ago)
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