John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Dishing out the latest in public-toilet news.
Take the plunge into this latest edition of Toilet Tuesday:
DUBIOUS 9/11 TRIBUTES, IN NEW YORK
Everything is officially back to normal in lower Manhattan. More than a decade after the terrorists attacked, the former site of the Twin Towers is home to a soon-to-be-opened skyscraper whose bathrooms are preemptively covered with racist, sexist and just plain disgusting graffiti.
The sorry state of the temporary construction loos, located on every fifth floor of the 104-story One World Trade Center, was exposed this weekend by the Daily News in a story headlined "TOWER OF HATE." While such bathroom bigotry is common throughout the city – indeed, the entire world – it's rather dismaying to see it appearing on such a sacred site. As one tourist told the newspaper: "People died here. I don’t like this. It makes me sad."
The marker musings at 1 WTC hit all the loathsome classics: "Whites only," "Woman don’t belong in construction!" and "Where’s Obama’s birth certificate!!!!" Then there are odder contributions like "Irish take a bath ya smelly f---s" and a guessing game for Jerry Sandusky's youngest victim. It's worth nothing the existence of inspirational messages, too, such as "God bless America" and the hopeful prediction that Obama himself scrawled on a nearby steel beam: "We come back stronger!" But the good stuff represents "1 percent of what's written," an anonymous source told the News. "The other 99 percent is all negative s---."
HOME AMONGST THE URINALS, IN ENGLAND
Say goodbye to chic industrial lofts with distressed concrete floors and granite countertops. In the future, the must-have domicile of hip urbanites might just be a place that used to receive our urine.
That seems to be a thing in London, where people are converting old public bathrooms into apartments and businesses as a "solution to rising property prices," according to the BBC. To back up this dubious-sounding claim, the broadcasting company found a man who took an abandoned "Victorian gentleman's toilet" near Regents Park, capped the soil stacks and power-washed the walls, and will reopen it as a sandwich shop next month. "It smells beautiful down here now," he said, presumably stroking his bar top lined with formerly pee-splattered urinals.
Then there's the architect who spent about $94,000 transforming a subterranean men's bathroom in South London into her "dream one-bedroom flat." What was once a dank, 1920s-era john is now an airy, 600-square-foot apartment with vibrant red drapery, a water closet with gilded walls and a garden fed by sunlight from the original loo's glassy ceiling tiles. The frankly stunning conversion must make the owner feel a little better about her new friend-given nickname: "Laura Toilets."
EXIT THROUGH THE POTTY, IN BROOKLYN
When robbing a store, it's good to know the location of the back exit. Otherwise, you might wind up an Internet sensation for frantically kicking down a door to escape the cops – only to find yourself face to face with a toilet. Jump to the 0:45 in this security-cam video to see these guys HULK SMASH their way into the lavatory and ultimately handcuffs (for more on the January 16 heist, head to Gothamist).
Top photos courtesy of Charlie Phillips on Flickr.