Looking Inside the Allen Street Elevated Public Restrooms at Delancey

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


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:


[Percy Loomis Sperr, 1927, NYPL]


[Percy Loomis Sperr, NYPL]

And was up the street from this:


[Percy Loomis Sperr, NYPL undated]

 And a block away from this:


[LOC Allen @ Stanton 1928]



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:



Look to the right for some brick.

[Percy Loomis Sperr, 1942, NYPL]

[Percy Loomis Sperr, 1942, NYPL]

And without further ado – present day interior:


photo 4 bboogie_2344

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.


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:


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


(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.


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:

photo 2

photo 5

photo 1

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.

abs boogie

I hope they rehabilitate this space.

It would be a beautiful thing.

’til next time. Peace.

Recent Stories

Centre-fuge Debuts Cycle 18 Artwork on East 1st Street Trailer

Here it is, fresh out of the (spray) can – the new cycle of artwork at the Centre-fuge trailer on East First Street. The public art project mobilized new participants for the eighteenth installment, the painting of which transpired over the weekend. Panels were decorated by Jet, Andy Golub, Below Key, Zero Productivity, Leon Rainbow, Rez Shoalin and […]

‘El Luchadore’ Opening Another Wrestling-Themed Taco Stand on Ludlow Street

Word on the street is that Hell Square will soon welcome a new Mexican snack joint to its ranks, taking the reins from a failed creperie. A year into operations down by the South Street Seaport, the popular taco stand El Luchador is reportedly opening a new location on the Lower East Side. Sources disclose that the restaurant, […]

Essex Crossing Forward Base is Established on Norfolk Street

The forward communications base for Essex Crossing is now up and running on Norfolk Street. As previously reported, the Lower East Side BID “donated” several of its parking spaces in Site 3 so that the developers could maintain offices near all the action. (This parcel is not part of Phase I development.) The new command […]

Puck Building Finally Turns on Its Illuminated Sidewalks Again

The historic Puck Building at East Houston and Lafayette Street is glowing in its new identity of luxury housing. Just look to the studded base of the building itself. Let there be light. In a surprising turn of events, that “distinctive sidewalk” (in design-speak) outside the city landmark was just illuminated for the first time in […]

Ongoing Grand Street Water Main Work Winds Down East of Allen

​The reality of Phase II has set in. Grand Street east of the Bowery is a total shitshow right now. Thanks to the ongoing work around installing a trunk water main beneath the roadway, the traffic patterns are changed, and businesses likely hurting. With the interlocking system of portable fencing and construction crew in tow, […]

  • Sabina

    Very cool! Have often wondered about the inside of that.

  • Party Time!

    Why doesn’t the City use this space for as a public art gallery?