Why Are People Pooping on the Streets in the North End?

Residents think there should be access to more public bathrooms to stop the defecation issue.

There is a “new level of outrage” in the North End, and it goes beyond the frustrations over excessive partying.

According to a local blog that covers the neighborhood, people have been using the side streets and alley ways as their own private restrooms, defecating out in the open, and it has been caught on video more than once. “It is ridiculous,” says longtime North End resident, and creator of the blog NorthEndWaterfront.com, Matt Conti. “I have gotten some question to why I’m posting [these videos], but the reason is, if you’re not out during the late night hours in the North End, you don’t see this type of behavior. It’s the extreme end of these kind of quality of life issues that people see and complain about in the North End.”

Residents have had their battles over late-night partying, puke in the streets, and urine-soaked storefronts. But the latest series of incidents, where people stop to poop in the crowded section of the city—situations that were captured twice over the Labor Day weekend and uploaded to YouTube and Conti’s website—is an all-time low, residents claim. “These are not homeless people, these are not people who are desperate, where you would feel … they don’t have anywhere else to go,” Conti says.

Resident David Archer has had his encounters with human fecal matter, too, but didn’t capture it on video. “It is very important for [everyone]—from the new neighbor who moved in last week to every city councilor and the mayor himself—to see what goes on here in our neighborhood most nights of the week,” Archer wrote in a comment under the first video of the female doing her business. “I cleaned up a pile of human feces in my courtyard garden [two] weeks ago, and have washed down gifts of urine three times this week alone.”

Archer said not only does it point out how the neighborhood has “devolved,” it points out the “desperate need for public restrooms” throughout the city. “But most definitely here in the city’s own amusement park, which tries to double as our home and neighborhood but seems to be failing at the latter rapidly,” he wrote.

Conti agrees, adding that if the city had an alternative and offered more public restrooms, residents living in the North End wouldn’t have to constantly badger the police in order to keep people from using the streets as their own restrooms. “I think it’s an issue that the city is going to have to address,” Conti says.

According to a Boston Globe article from June, daytime bathroom breaks have been an issue for tourists, too. 

Residents are calling for public bathroom access along the Greenway, where millions of dollars have been spent adding attractions like pressurized water fountains and a carousel, attracting more people to the strip of land that passes by the North End. “There is a lack of public restrooms. I have questioned why we build [attractions] on the Greenway, but there is no restroom on the Greenway, and the latest poop incident is down the block from the area,” says Conti.

A request for comment from officials from the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, the entity that oversees the land, about adding public restrooms to the area, was not immediately returned.

On Thursday night, residents met with city officials, including City Councilor Sal LaMattina, and Boston Police Captain Thomas Lee, to talk about overall neighborhood concerns, but the plague of pooping capers came up in passing.

Conti says that both LaMattina, who has vowed in the past to put an end to rowdy behavior riling up residents of the neighborhood, and Lee, were disgusted by what they saw at the community gathering. Both of them watched the video. “They were shocked by the behavior,” says Conti.

“It’s absolutely disgusting,” says LaMattina of the behavior. “Maybe the girl, she had to go then she had to go—but I have never seen behavior like that in my life. I heard the guy may have done it more than once over there.”

LaMattina, whose district includes the North End, said there has been a “big call” for public restrooms, and he is currently working on getting a 24-hour access bathroom installed in a section of the neighborhood to alleviate problems like the recent defecation incidents. “The North End is very congested, and we are looking at putting in one of those portable [bathrooms] you see around the city,” he says.

The city official said there is a parcel of land on Cross Street, near Hanover Street, where he would like the bathroom to be placed, but the land is state-owned and needs to be turned over to the city first.  “We will go through that process this fall,” says LaMattina. “There is definitely a need for it. We have been out there and looking at it, and we are going to have some dialogue with the community too.”