When You Have To Go: Public Bathrooms in Downtown Boston

One of the most fundamental human activities is the removal of waste from the body. Yes, we all do it, and when nature calls, we would all prefer to find a location that is clean, quiet, and free from distractions.

In most major cities, finding a clean bathroom can become a quest of epic proportions. Boston is no exception, particularly in around the heavily-trafficked tourist areas around the Common, Downtown Crossing, and Long Wharf.

As anyone who knows the city can attest, the coin-operated public toilets aren’t paragons of modern convenience. First of all, they weren’t cheap. They’re closed in the evening hours, and they seem to be unable to accept coins much of the time. Of course, they are in high-visibility areas like on Boylston Street in front of the Boston Public Library. Right now, they just seem like very expensive street furniture, regardless of who paid for them.

It’s for this reason that I’ve searched high, low, and in-between to bring you my top choices for clean, public bathrooms in Boston.

1. The Boston Common Visitors Center

Once you pass through the racks of Boston-baked-bean themed postcards and lobster tchotchkes, you’ll find neat, tidy bathrooms. Admittedly, the facilities are a bit small (one stall, at least in the men’s room), but they are in good shape and a recent rehab of the Center means things fairly glisten.

2. The “New” State House

So you’re going to have to pass through security here (leave the guns and serrated knives at home, please), but there are an abundance of restrooms here for your convenience. I’ve been in many, many, government buildings, and the bathrooms here are consistently clean and commodious. Besides you can also stop by and say hi to the Sacred Cod and the Hall of Flags as part of your visit.

3. Marriott Long Wharf

Right, so this isn’t exactly a “public” place, unless the Marriott has started giving away free rooms. For my money, these well-designed bathrooms are the best in the Long Wharf area. If you are getting on a ferry ride to the Boston Harbor Islands or taking a ride on the fearsome “Codzilla,” why not slide up on the escalator to the restrooms on the second floor?


One last thing: Who was first in charge of cleaning up Boston’s streets and taking on the cause of general sanitation?

That would be Paul Revere, who worked with his colleagues to pass regulations like this one: “No hogsties or hogs shall be kept within the town without a license from the Board of Health, and except they stand over the water in such a manner that the filth will be completely carried off by the ebbing and flowing of the tide.”