Café Achteck

This is a traditional public toilet in Berlin known as a Café Achteck. These octagonal iron structures have adorned the city streets since the 1870’s, with around 30 remaining today; this particular one is located at the Gendarmenmarkt. They were originally built for men only but a bunch of them have been converted in recent years to cater for ladies as well.

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Nuclear bunker

Here’s an interesting one: a bathroom inside a Berlin nuclear bunker built during the Cold War.

It can hold 3,600 people for around 2 weeks, which is around how long they thought it’d take for radioactive fallout to settle should there have been an attack on the city. There were 4 bathrooms built within the complex, each consisting of 14 urinals & 16 toilets. There were no toilet doors on the stalls – only curtains – to prevent anyone from locking themselves inside and potentially committing suicide. Neither are there any mirrors in the bathrooms – a further safety measure to prevent the use of glass shards as a weapon. If the city water supply or built-in filtration system was to fail, there was enough water storage for 2.5 litres per person per day.

Thankfully, the bunker has never been used for its intended purpose and it’s currently part of the fascinating Story Of Berlin museum tour. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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The urinal block at one of the four bathroom facilities in the bunker

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Only curtains for privacy in the stalls, for fear of anyone locking themselves behind a door

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No mirrors above the basins

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The cramped & presumably uncomfortable bunk beds built to hold 3,600 people


The Library of Congress

I was lucky enough to get onto the final tour of the day at the Capitol, then I strolled over to the Library of Congress via the tunnel to see if I was able to get in there. Tours had already finished for the day unfortunately but I at least figured the restrooms there would be nice. I wasn’t wrong.

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Bonus photo of the ceiling of the main hall:

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Smithsonian toilets

There were a couple of interesting & educational toilet-related exhibits waiting for me at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

An historic house from the 1760’s that stood in Ipswich, Massachusetts, was taken apart in 1963 and reassembled in the museum, thanks to a group of concerned residents who didn’t want to see such a beautiful old structure go to waste. A three-part shed was added onto the house in the 1800’s, including this outhouse which remained in use until 1946:

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Elsewhere in the museum I spied some more American toilet history in the form of this elaborate ceramic bowl circa 1900:

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Spy toilet signs

Some spy-themed WC signs at the International Spy Museum

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Historic toilets at the historic Wyatt House

There were two very special toilets at Wyatt Historic House, in the small city of Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

Firstly: this chamber pot, hidden inside the steps to the bed in one of the grand old bedrooms. Just put on the cover & push the pot back in when you’re done!

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And secondly, how about this glorious old bathroom? This is the original dating back to 1907, in what was one of the most authentic historic houses I think I’ve ever seen

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The oldest flush toilet in Toronto

This is the oldest indoor flush toilet in Toronto!

I took a tour of Colborne Lodge in High Park today; my guide told me it was installed by surveyor & engineer John George Howard around 1860 and remains complete with original wallpaper & toilet roll holder. Even more fascinating is the bathroom was built behind a secret door, camouflaged to look like it was part of the wall, because back in those days indoor toilets were thought to be unsanitary. Guests didn’t even know the room existed.

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