Harlem Stakeholders Rally To Preserve Imperiled Historic Comfort Station, Expand Bathroom Access in Neighborhood

125th Street Comfort StationDesignated as eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2004, the 125th Street Comfort Station is under threat as a result of an unreleased “structural integrity” report commissioned by the Department of Transportation.

New York, NY. – On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, Harlem stakeholders from a wide spectrum of communities gathered in the shadow of the 125th Street Comfort Station on Tuesday to demand the city invest in rehabilitating the structure, and broaden access to safe, clean bathrooms for Harlem residents. The comfort station is under the auspices of the NYC Department of Transportation, who have stated that an unreleased engineering report on its structural integrity recommended demolition.

Advocates also unveiled new research that points to an increase in local citations for public urination – and renew calls for the city to install one of 15 Automated Public Toilets (APTs) purchased by the city in 2006 and sitting in a Queens warehouse since then.

“It’s important to call attention to the all the development going on around here, but none of that development is providing public bathrooms for East Harlemites,” said Charmel Lucas, a member of Picture the Homeless. “Meanwhile, there are all kinds of activities happening here at 125th st, but nowhere for people to use the bathroom. While this comfort station lies unused, New Yorkers pile up citations for public urination just within these blocks. Renovate and open the comfort station!”

125th Street Comfort Station“I grew up right around the corner from the Metro North station, and I remember all the wonderful amenities we enjoyed back then,” said Marina Ortiz, founder of East Harlem Preservation, a volunteer-driven, advocacy organization that works to promote and preserve the neighborhood’s history and diversity. “There was a hot dog stand and an iconic comfort station and lots of open space where we could hang out without being profiled, or told to “move along.” Today, we have none of that. Rather than preserving this community landmark, the comfort station is about to be torn down. Why not renovate and reopen it to the community again? Why is the city so insistent on demolishing our neighborhoods, erasing our histories, and making it nearly impossible for us to live here? I support Picture the Homeless in their efforts to reclaim this space and to protect everyone’s right to free assembly, especially in their own community spaces.”

“There are a lot of people on the street who need to use the bathroom,” added PTH member Jim Pizarro. “Often people go to stores in East Harlem to use the bathroom, and many times they can’t afford to buy something and so they’ll get kicked out. When I was on the street I remember just looking for safe places to quietly use the bathroom. If the comfort station was open, the street would be cleaner and everyone would feel safer.”

For more information, contact Picture the Homeless.