You just finished lunch, asked your family if everyone was set to go, and 5 blocks after you left the restaurant with that great big clean bathroom someone says, uh-oh. It's not hard to find a decent public bathroom in the city if you know where to look.
A couple of basic go-to spots will take care of most situations. We have also listed a few good spots in each borough. Also check our Take A Break section and events with bathroom facilities are noted. Many public spaces set aside by private companies include a bathroom. We like the Trump Plaza and Olympia Tower ones in midtown Manhattan best.
Bus and Train Stations
Police Precincts- really, they'll let you use theirs.
Retail locations for shoppers and patrons: department stores (restrooms are generally located on upper floors), coffee shops, large bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble and larger hotels.
Most of the larger public parks (Despite the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's best efforts, these can really vary in quality and safety.)
Bryant Park — we call it the best in the city, attended with fresh flower no less. It is small though and is not open very late. Find it on the northeast corner of the park along 42nd Street behind the library.
Grand Central Station has two sets of bathrooms located on the lower level- one east and one west with food purveyors in the middle. Lots of stalls, the line moves fast but the sinks spray. 42nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.
Penn Station has a few bathrooms with the best located in NJ Transit lounge for ticket holders. Use the station entrance on 7th Avenue across from 32nd Street.
Port Authority Bus Terminal has been working on the small old bathrooms on the lower level for over a year (it may be hopeless). The larger one on ground level is preferred and the one on the second level is even better. Go in the entrance on 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets.
Rockefeller Center has a huge bathroom on the lower concourse level behind the food court, just past the UPS Store, on either side of the sandwich shop 'Witchery. Plenty of stalls, baby changing, etc. Enter via the elevator on the north side of the skating rink or via the entrance to 30 Rock just above the rink and walk down the stairs.
Charmin;s sponsors public toilets in Times Square at 1540 Broadway between 54th and 46th Streets from Thanksgiving week through December 31. Dates
November 23, 2009, through December 31, 2009. This year they are open Sundays–Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursdays–Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. They will be open on Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve (Thursday) they are open utnil 6pm, but closed Chirstmas Day (Friday). On New Year's Eve day (Thursday) they are open until 3pm.
Upper East Side and Upper West Side
Central Park has bathrooms in lots of locations. Note especially the one near the Metropolitan Museum on the Upper East Side, where public bathrooms are abundant for museum-goers but other wise few and far between: Here is the list of bathrooms open year round in Central Park:
Arsenal, 5th Avenue from 60th Street to 65th Street
Conservatory Garden, 5th Avenue, 103rd Street to 106th Street
Dana Discovery Center, 110th Street between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard
Delacorte Comfort Station, Mid-Park at 80th Street
Kerbs Boathouse, 74th Street near Fifth Avenue
Lasker, Central Park at 107th Street
Loeb Boathouse, East Side between 74th and 75th streets
North Meadow Recreation Center, Mid-park at 97th Street
Tennis Courts, 93d Street near the West Drive
Behind The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
Wollman Rink, Center Drive to East Drive
The Time-Warner Center at Columbus Circle (across form 57th Street and Central Park West) has bathrooms on the upper levels and downstairs in Whole Foods.
Morningside Park at Morningside Avenue and 123rd Street
New York Public Library on 203 West 115th Street, between Frederick Douglas Blvd and 7th Avenue (closed Sundays)
New York Public Library on 518 West 125th Street at Amsterdam Avenue (closed Sundays)
New York Public Library on 224 East 125th Street, near Third Ave (closed Sundays)
There are very clean bathrooms at the Whitehall Terminal Building where the Staten Island Ferry berths. Walk down State Street to the Terminal and head up the escalators.
South Street Seaport at 19 Fulton St has bathrooms in the shopping mall.
Thompkins Square Park, 331 East 10th, between Avenues A and B has a bathroom open year round.
Lower East Side
Sara D. Roosevelt Park from East Houston Street to Canal Street between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park-several locations.
Queens Botanical Gardens, indoor and year round outdoor facilities
Queens Library- Flushing Branch, modern building at bottom of Main Street (41-17 Main Street) Closed Sundays.
New York Public Libraries including: (note branches are closed Sundays)
Morrisania Branch, 610 East 169th Street at Franklin Ave.
Woodstock Branch, 761 East 160th Street west of Prospect Ave.
Mott Haven Branch, 321 East 140th Street at Alexander Ave.
Student Center, Fordham University, Rose Hill Campus, Fordham Road
Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Avenue between, 184th and 186th Streets where bathrooms for patrons are in the back, upstairs. TOP
St. George Staten Island Ferry Terminal on George Street
East Bronx (includes Little Italy)West Bronx (includes Riverdale)Downtown Bronx (Yankee Stadium/Courthouse area)Other
Downtown Brooklyn (Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill)Prospect Park Area (Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights)Williamsburg area (includes Greenpoint)Fort Greene/Clinton HillBay Ridge, Dyker HeightsDUMBOOther
Midtown (30th to 59th, east and west sides including Murray Hill)Upper West Side (60th to 114th, Central Park West to Hudson River)Upper East Side (60th-96th, Fifth to East River)Harlem & Uptown (north of 96th on east side, and 115th on west side)Greenwich Village/Chelsea , between 30th and Houston St. (Greenwich Village, East Village, West Village, NoHo, Chelsea, Gramercy, Union Square, Flatiron)Downtown, below Houston Street (SoHo, Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, Lower East Side, Wall St/Financial DistrictOther
Astoria/RavenswoodLong Island City area (includes Sunnyside)FlushingFlushing Meadows Corona Park areaJamaica, Queens area (Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens)Other
St. George (ferry landing)RichmondtownTottenvilleOther