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the city is too big if...

I came to a conclusion this week when we were walking around the country club plaza in KC. I needed to use the restroom, so I popped into the starbucks on the corner and used theirs. There's also a panera bread that surely would have been okay with that, and the Halls department store, and other places.

I decided that I like cities that are big enough to have cool stuff to walk around and see, but when they get so big that they discourage you from going to the bathroom... there's my limit. It just means things have gotten too big. It means the citizens don't appreciate tourists which is crap, because we're there putting money into their economy. It means that a restroom open to the public would be so overused and nasty that they've decided not to bother with it. It means that, as a city, they no longer care about taking care about people's basic physical needs.

In Wichita stores are happy to let you come in and use the restroom, hey, you're IN THE STORE, you get love for that. In Kansas City store clerks will at least point you around the corner to the closest eating establishment. In Austin I had to buy a coffee at a place to use one, once I did I knew the code for that place but I think it's on the line. Las Vegas loves tourists so of course there are gobs of restrooms. Washington DC doesn't have the cleanest, but they're there. Lawrence, KS you just have to pretend like you know where you're going and they tend to not bother you. New York City is useless. I think they expect you to squat behind a bush in Central park, even the restaurants have big nasty NO PUBLIC BATHROOM signs.

There's a line between a cool city with enough stuff to keep your attention, and someplace that's just gotten too big for it's own good. I think the line is somewhere between 600,000-700,000 people, based on my new test, but obviously it takes some personal investigation.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
dreamingkat
Jul. 6th, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC)
Houston is weird - like downtown, you can't find a bathroom to save your life. The CVS on main street sent me a block down to Sears when I *bought*menstrual*pads* and asked for a bathroom. I decided I'm never ever shopping there again, unless the alternative is death. And even then, I might think twice about it.

But in other parts of town, there's McDonalds everywhere, and you can use their bathrooms. And gas stations always have public restrooms, usually in pretty good shape, compared to gas station bathrooms in other cities, and during the day their open. At night sometimes you can't use the bathroom at a gas station, depending on the part of town.

Personally, I think there should be more parks, and more public bathrooms in parks to take care of these things. I always try to buy something at a store when I use their bathroom, to let them know I appreciate the availability.

feanelwa
Jul. 6th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
Some cities here are trying a scheme where the local authority pays businesses to let random members of the public come in to use the toilet without buying anything. It's better than not investing in anything, I guess.
stephbarnard
Jul. 6th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
when I was in NYC last month, we took a bus tour, and the tour guide said pretty much the only place you can get away with using the bathroom (and not necessarily buying anything) is Starbucks. Thankfully, Starbucks is all over the place in Manhattan, but I still did a lot of holding it while I was there.

I really need to check out KC sometime. I hear nothing but good things about it.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 6th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
Actually the places in NYC where you can find public restrooms are big tourist destinations. Central Park has clean, open bathrooms as do most of the stores on Fifth Avenue. The "no public restrooms" signs are really there to keep homeless people from wandering in and using the bathrooms. Sad but true. But really there are thousands of free public restrooms in Manhattan you just need to ask. Every bookstore, Starbucks, and big chain hotel has restrooms anyone can use. Like everything in NYC, you need to be in the know to find these things.
feanelwa
Jul. 6th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I remember peeing in Central Park, next to a big round garden with lots of trailing plants, possibly the north end.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 7th, 2009 04:33 am (UTC)
We have exactly one bathroom(per gender) at the place I work, and one day I found out how many people had been in the store, according to the automatic customer count.

It said there had been 5000 people going through the doors that day. If you assume half are women, and then assume one third of those had to use the bathroom, then there could have been over 800 women that used that bathroom in one day. There was definately less, but still. That's alot.

I fear for the Starbucks on a busy NYC corner. :-\
schmelf
Jul. 7th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
In Chicago, I don't think it's so much about tourists as about locals, particularly homeless people, which is certainly not a better motivation, and probably a great deal worse. The sign they probably ought to have is "no loitering." But yeah, it's pretty dumb. Merchants should be glad to have people in their store, because 1.) they might buy something and 2.) it looks like people are in their store, which brings other people to it. Once exception I can think of is teenagers in restaurants who come in large packs, order a coke, and make a mess and drive away real customers.
wildelion
Jul. 7th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I find I must agree with your assessment!
This is the sort of analysis I engage in all the time and really enjoyed this view.
17bananas
Jul. 7th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Aw, there are places to pee in Austin, I promise! The Drag is just not so good. Two blocks in either direction and we'd have found someplace.
mousyspellcheck
Jul. 9th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
Interesting... I never thought that a lack of bathrooms is a sign that the city is too big.

Then again, if I need to go to the bathroom when I'm in the city, there's always a shopping centre nearby.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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