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The History of Public Restrooms, A Story of Inequality - 3 PM

Bryant Simon, "The History of Public Restrooms, A Story of Inequality"

Tuesday, February 13, 3 PM (Note special time - after yoga!)

Falls of Schuylkill Library Meeting Room (Midvale Ave. entrance), 3501 Midvale Ave., Philadelphia, PA


Temple historian Bryant Simon tells of the rise and fall of public restrooms, a story of race, politics, sex, and Starbucks.


From the 1880s to World War I, cities took pride in the construction of public toilets.  Professor Simon tells us, “Mayors of each city would show up and host events where they would be bragging about their public restrooms.”  But the facilities became havens for men seeking sex with men, the homeless seeking shelter, and vandals, leading to their closure. In the era of Jim Crow, they were for whites only; a black man was killed for using a public facility. 


With the closure of public restrooms, the public had little choice to rely on private facilities, often unavailable to those who could not patronize the businesses, or preferred not to make a purchase only to gain access.


What does this have to do with Starbucks?  Simon is a student of Starbucks, having published a book about the company that “taught us … to pay more than a dollar for a cup of coffee.”  His interest turned to restrooms after a black man who had not made a purchase was refused access to the restroom and police became involved.

Accessible.  Use walkway from Warden Dr. near mailbox.

Everyone welcome. Free. No advance registrattion.

Sponsored by East Falls Village and East Falls Historical Society

Tuesday, February 13, 2024, 3:00 PM until 4:30 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada) (UTC-05:00)
Falls of Schuylkill Library - Midvale Ave entrance
3501 Midvale Avenue
Philadelphia, PA  
Additional Info:
Everyone welcome!
Registration is not Required
Payment In Full In Advance Only