Looking Inside the Allen Street Elevated Public Restrooms at Delancey

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 at 11:23 am by

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Walk north (ish) up Allen Street using the pedestrian mall. Once you hit Delancey, right smack in front of you will be a beautiful art deco building.

Built in the 1930s for the 2nd Ave El riders, these public restrooms have sat empty since the early 1950s. Now the city is trying to find a public community use for this and other defunct public restrooms around the Lower East Side.

That beaut’ used to sit under this:

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[Percy Loomis Sperr, 1927, NYPL]

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[Percy Loomis Sperr, NYPL]And was up the street from this:

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[Percy Loomis Sperr, NYPL undated] And a block away from this:

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[LOC Allen @ Stanton 1928]

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[NYPL]Want to know what it looks like on the inside?

You already know I do, so I went, I saw, I photographed. And while I may have gotten stuck on the cast-iron railings (above) that still line the mall, ripped my favorite pair of jeans beyond repair, dropped my handy mini-mag-lite into a questionable pile of what appeared to be wet leaves, and left covered in mud – it was totally worth the trouble.

Here’s then:

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[NYPL-Copyright-Delancey-Allen-Elevated-Train-1934]Look to the right for some brick.

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[Percy Loomis Sperr, 1942, NYPL]And without further ado – present day interior:

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I have more, but need to stop here because that metal device was haunting me. Immediately seeing it I thought water strainer/wringer for towels or shirts that had gotten wet, but could find nothing that stated NYC equipped its public restrooms with such wringers.

Finally, I came across picture of a nearly-identical device; ergo, a wringer it is! Machinists be proud.  Check out some antique ones for sale here and if you get one, take a picture and send it in! ‘Cause I’m sure so many of you still wash your clothes by hand.

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The stairs on the backside of the building lead to a lower level which can also be accessed by an additional staircase shown here from the interior:

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Next up, a tile from the inside (see above) found its way out and is now in the collection of yours truly.

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(There will be a post in the future showcasing my vast NYC artifact collection so keep your eyes peeled.)

Finally, Manhattan’s Borough President seal/variant flag of Manhattan adorning the top of the restroom.

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The Latin Sigillum Civitatis Novi Eboraci = Seal of the City of New York

And it appears some wannabe graff artists gave the buildings some new features. Y’all know how I feel about spray paint and historic structures – at least have some talent. Nevertheless:

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There is a door that opens out made of metal blocking the original door that opens inward made of wood.

You can’t get into that bad boy through the doors no matter how hard one (not me) might try.

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I hope they rehabilitate this space.

It would be a beautiful thing.

’til next time. Peace.

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