KMART 770 Broadway, 212-673-1540 Forget insider trading and sweatshop labor—Martha Stewart should be ashamed of the condition of her corporate partner’s lavatories. Straight out of 1984—probably the last time they were scrubbed—these admittedly spacious facilities not only have their doors propped open, but feature a high-mounted TV monitor showing the entire second floor every potential shitter/shoplifter entering and exiting.
SOHO GRAND HOTEL 310 West Broadway, 212-965-3000 When the sidewalk just won’t do, climb the elegant staircase of this in-crowd’s inn, unbuckle, and sample how the other half lives: Marble stalls block the sounds of neighbors’ evacuations; novelty wallpaper, composed of vertical strips of newspapers in different languages, massages your eyes; ample hand soap and paper towels invite—nay, insist—that you indulge in more than a perfunctory rinse. Superb.
BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSELLERS 33 East 17th Street, 212-253-0810 Leave your not-yet-rung-up reading at the door, a sign warns. Don’t worry, you won’t want to linger in these poo-scented pissoirs. Dank and gray but for a smattering of brand-reinforcing green tiles, these bathrooms, located in the kids’ section on the second level, are almost as depressing as B&N’s culturally homogenizing business practices.
BLUESTOCKINGS BOOKSTORE 172 Allen Street, 212-777-6028, bluestockings.com If nature doesn’t call during your visit to this charming lefty-feminist lit shop, buy a coffee and wait it out—the tiny water closet in back features weird posters hung on aquamarine walls, Christmas lights strung along the ceiling, one home-style throne with a commercial-strong flush, and a sink fashioned from a metal bucket!
APPLE STORE SOHO 103 Prince Street, 212-226-3126 Like the iBook I’m writing this on, these lavatories, right angles of brushed metal, white tile, and gray slate, seem almost severely sleek and pristine. You almost don’t want to leave your BM behind. It’s relieving to know that even though I flushed, someone immediately attended to my stall with a toilet brush upon my exit.
POTTERY BARN 600 Broadway, 212-219-2420 A giggly blonde-brunette pair kindly directed me to this spacious, single-occupancy crapper. Mostly beige, accented with oversize fake red flowers and matching sparkly candle (which the previous visitor, if thoughtful, would have lit), this inviting pit stop would be perfect if paper were substituted for the patience-testing blow-dryer.
TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK 500 East 9th Street, 212-387-7685 When getting strung out and pissing yourself on a nearby bench just won’t do, duck into this squat brick “comfort station.” To work up enough courage, you might be tempted to eat a bean burrito at nearby San Loco, but I wouldn’t recommend it—the filthy stalls are usually occupied by homeless folks trying to stay warm.