New York is a scary place

Sometimes, it is easy to forget that New York is still a big and scary city. It seems like there is a Whole Foods on every corner, and a Free People fashion boutique even in the worst of neighborhoods. I’ve lived here long enough to remember when it was a really gnarly pit of seedy activity. When I was writing The Believer’s Daughter, I couldn’t help but imagine Grace and Aaron arriving in New York and stepping off of their train at Penn Station in the iteration of that west side neighborhood I remember from fifteen years ago. 34th Street (right by Penn Station) is still my Most Hated Street in New York, followed closely by 14th Street, for excessive pedestrian traffic, unappealing stores (Foot Locker?) and high anxiety about my iPhone being pulled out of my handbag.
I happened to notice this totally dark, gross, rusting locked gate leading to a Women’s bathroom at the Franklin Street #1 train station this week and remembered that way back when, all subway stations used to actually have bathrooms. And people, regular subway-riding people, used to use them. Not me. But these were really once in use, presumably before everyone just started using the bathrooms at Starbucks and the Time Warner Center when they weren’t at home. I can’t even imagine how filthy and stanky this bathroom must be, and thankfully it is locked away like a little water closet time capsule. It serves as a fun and unsightly reminder that New York used to be gritty before all public restrooms had Dyson hand dryers.


New York is a scary place

2 thoughts on “New York is a scary place

  1. Hi Caitlyn, While the bathrooms in the subway stations were scary…the BEST bathrooms in NYC were in the big department stores like Bonwit Teller, Macys and Gimbles! They were elegant with attendants in maids uniforms and easy chairs for the patrons to rest in. I think I saw some of the same old ladies each time I visited..napping the afternoon away! Who knows…maybe they were well dressed street people! My favorite bathroom in The City was the ladies bathroom in Grand Central Station. We would take the train from CT and stop there on our way to explore. There were the “regular” stalls (free) and the “deluxe” stalls where you had to put a dime in to use them. I always brought along an extra dime so I could feel like bathroom royalty!.

    • Hi Donna! I love it! I am a total public bathroom snob. My global favorites include the hotel lobby restrooms at the Grand Hyatt in Berlin (near Potsdamer Platz) and the fancy bathrooms at the Time Warner Center in New York (although those are starting to get a little grimy). I would lose my mind if there were still bathrooms so fancy in New York. I think Saks Fifth Avenue still has attendants, but it’s been a while since I checked it out (and sadly the last time I went there, it was specifically to steal a roll of toilet paper in college).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s