Tucked away in an unassuming corner of a pleasant park in the middle of Manhattan lies a treasure of unimaginable wonder. While countless people rush past its stern façade without a second thought, a lucky few quietly whisper of the glories contained within its mausoleum-like exterior. For just past that black gate, up a short pathway and through a doorway crowned with the ominously chiseled words: “WOMEN MEN,” lies the entrance of what is, without a doubt, the classiest of all New York’s public restrooms.
A quick stop at the Bryant Park public bathroom is like a leisurely afternoon at the spa, a night spent at the symphony and Sunday afternoon tea at The Plaza rolled into one. You may walk into one of its well-appointed stalls a Dickensian street urchin, but you'll depart a refined gentlemen of manners. Someone who appreciates the finer things in life, like rotating sanitary seat covers. There are flowers. Classical music plays while you’re on the crapper. There’s even fancy soap.
It was because of this indisputable level of excellence that many were surprised to hear the Bryant Park Corporation had decided to invest $300,000 in an eight-week renovation of a space already radiating over-achievement. Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Corporation, a nonprofit that manages the park, insists that the additional work was necessary to maintain the luster of this washroom wonderland.
“[The bathroom]’s been worn down under the strain of a million and a half users a year, so this is a fresh new look,” Biederman explains. “Plus, it has features we didn’t have before. The walls are spectacular, the classical music is better and we’ll now be featuring rotating artwork from the park’s painters-in-residence. We made reproductions because of the humidity.”
The post-renovation bathroom officially opened its doors to the public this week, ready to once again welcome weary passersby into its hygienic, photogenic embrace. We got a first look at the new elegant facilities which you can see photos of below.