Are there pay toilets in America?

Reading Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book, in the section detailing how to steal various goods and services, it said: “Pay Toilets: SNEAK IN!” This is only the second time I have heard of pay toilets in my entire life. The first was in a rather tasteless joke: “How was the limbo invented? Jews trying to sneak into pay toilets.”

I’ve been all over the US and never seen a pay toilet. Do they exist? If so, where?

I haven’t seen a pay toilet in almost 30 years. I think they were outlawed as part of making things more accessible to the disabled. I have no cite for that, though.

San Francisco Public Pay Toilets

Not pay toilets exactly but I have seen places like McDonalds have locked toilets that you need a token to enter. You get a token by buying something and asking for one. Boston had or has a McDonalds like that near downtown.

I’ve never seen one in Canada or the US, but they are very common in Europe. Usually you put a coin into the door, you go in, do you stuff, and when you leave you can get the coin back, but sometimes you have to pay an attendant, who hands you a wad of toilet paper, and that’s it. It isn’t very expensive, but I never liked it, especially the ones with attendants, since I always felt like they thought it was wrong of me to even be asking for toilet paper (this was mostly when I lived in Germany, and I was 9-12 years old). I guess being a public bathroom attendant isn’t the most cheerful, engaging job on the planet.

I have heard that pay toilets are something from the rave scene. It has to do with the pills requiring a lot of water to wash down and people drinking water from any source (and the toilet then being competition to the bar!). Any truth to this?

I remember them at a few boardwalks in MA and NH at salsbury and hampton beach. They costed a quarter. I haven’t had to use a bathroom at either for at least ten years so don’t know if they still exist.

I’ve seen a few resturants/ food courts that had a system similar to what Shagnasty mentioned

When I was little (not that long ago), they were very common. Seems they usually cost a dime. Of course, once someone had paid a dime, they often held open the door for the next person etc. so it became pretty much pointless in busy restrooms anyway.

I believe someone took it to court or something and won on the basis of it being illegal to restict access to people who have to deal with bodily functions. No, I don’t have a cite and neither does Wikipedia.

As I recall, the demise of pay toilets was one of the effects of the women’s rights movement back in the 1970s. Women protested that because they had to use toilets more then men, requiring a fee discriminated against them. Most men figured they had no vested interest in paying to use a toilet, so there was minimal opposition and that cause was an early victory for women.

Pay toilets predate the rave scene by a long time.

They are common in Mexico as well, but I’ve never seen one in the states.

They used to be more common in the 1970s. I heard (total hearsay) that there are state laws prohibiting them, since someone might need one quickly and not have any change. I also heard that establishments (or maybe food establishments) are required to provide access to toilets to their customers. OTOH, I have seen within the last several months what appear to be pay toilets. Maybe they’re token-operated to restrict their use to patrons? I don’t know. Anyway, I have never seen any laws regarding pay toilets one way or the other.

When I was a kid I made up this joke: What do you call a musical pay toilet? Johnny Cash.

I remember them from when I was a kid in Ontario, in the '60s. There were pay toilets in a few department stores, and at the bus terminal. I don’t think I’ve seen one since then, though.

Reminds me of a joke (or rather, some possibly apocryphal bathroom scrawl):

Here I sit
Paid my dime
And only farted

It leads me to believe that they must have been prevalent at one point.

I always heard that as:

Here I sit
Broken Hearted
Came to shit
and only farted

I have never seen a pay toilet in my life.

Little Nemo is correct that it was the women’s movement that put an end to pay toilets. They were common in department stores, train stations, etc. until the 1970’s. Men could pee for free. Women couldn’t.

I haven’t seen one since I was a small child. But IIRC, there were always free stalls available also. If you were the fastidious type, like my mother, you paid your dime. If you were broke or didn’t care, you could still use the facilities.

It’s not apocryphal. I’ve seen it on toilet walls. Except it’s been “paid my penny…”

Heh, I used to work security at science fiction conventions, and the main duty of a Convention Security goon was to check for con badges for people trying to enter various places such as the Dealers’ Room or panels, to make sure folks were paying to get in, since the convention hosts were paying to make it all happen.

A sort of silly joke for when we were bored and off duty was to stand in front of the mens room at the Con Hotel or Convention Center or whatever and ask to see peoples’ con badges when they were about to enter (done only to people visibly wearing badges, and most of them just smirked and walked past without incident, but you got your amusement where you found it).

Bathroom poetry is a tradition as old as toilet stalls, I think. No doubt a cultural tradition which traces its roots to caveman art.