Imagining Public Affluence: Redesigning Cities and Reclaiming Public Space

There are few things less dignified—and more panic-inducing—than when you hear nature’s proverbial call in public, far away from a publicly available bathroom. Yet given the arrangement of public space in most large cities, such a disastrous situation is practically inevitable if you’re out and about for long enough. I had the misfortune of suffering a close call one night in midtown Manhattan; only proximity to Bryant Park and its miraculously existent public bathrooms saved me from profound embarrassment. Private establishments, whether they be restaurants or stores, generally don’t let people use their bathrooms unless they pay—and even then, there are some stores which serenely notify customers that bathrooms aren’t available. For people who can’t afford to buy a five-dollar latte every time they need to use the bathroom in public, or for people enduring a genuine emergency, the status quo is untenable.

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Scott Remer has published in venues such as In These Times, Africa Is a Country, Common Dreams, OpenDemocracy, Philosophy Now, Philosophical Salon, and International Affairs.

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