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Globe: Public Restrooms Sparse in North End on Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail cuts through the center of the North End between the Greenway and Charlestown (Boston Visitor Center Map)

The Boston Globe features the ongoing plight of Freedom Trail tourists looking for a public restroom in the North End.

Tour guide James Miele knows the history of all the North End landmarks on the Freedom Trail: the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church, the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. But if Miele’s flock is overhydrated, sometimes what’s more important is that he can find the restrooms.

The article points out that two bathrooms recently opened at Old North Church Gift Shop. Vicar Steve Ayres says its a start, but for the neighborhood at large, it doesn’t make much of a dent when 100 people get off a tour bus. Businesses are constantly hassled with bathroom requests, such as at Cafe Lil Italy, mentioned in the Globe article.

The bathroom situation turned into a crisis when the Hull St. visitor was closed a few years ago due to State budget cuts.

There have been repeated pleas to re-open the Hull Street facility or find other facilities that could bear the burden. A recent one published here on

Also on the Freedom Trail, the Paul Revere House in North Square has plans for restrooms in its ongoing renovation. Visitors pay an entry fee to visit the museum. Councilor Sal LaMattina has also floated the idea of installing a coin-operated, self-cleaning restroom on the Paul Revere Mall (Prado).

The situation does not look to have a near-term solution. And, the Globe article is not the first Boston newspaper to cover the story.

Carrying the torch on behalf of those that visit, live and work in the North End is Freedom Trail abutter, Thomas Schiavoni, who is quoted in the Globe article:

“It’s a profound embarrassment,” said Thomas Schiavoni, a lawyer who is chairman of the Friends of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. “My wife and I live two doors in from the Freedom Trail, and we’ve had families come in and use our first-floor bathroom.” People who need to relieve themselves also use stone walls beside Snow Hill Street, said Schiavoni, as well as dark recesses inside parking garages. “They’ll put in a merry-go-round in the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, but they won’t put in some place to go” in the North End, Schiavoni complained.

Read the full Globe article.

3 Replies to “Globe: Public Restrooms Sparse in North End on Freedom Trail

  1. If I could count the number of times throughout the planning, &building & then surface restoration planning I asked about requiring public restroom siting in the RFPs… I cannot. Unfortunately I was often a lone voice.

    “Parcel 7/the House of Pollution/future home of the Public Market was a perfect place to site a suite of public restrooms. I’d expected restrooms in the Harbor Islands pavilion–what a surprise.

    What about the skating rink?

    Public restrooms don’t have to be free. To use the WC anywhere in Europe, you pay. An entrepreneur could surely operate a profitable business offering clean “comfort stations” in the North End.

    1. The skating rink is closed in the summer.
      Aaron should step up to the plate and get the funding for the bathrooms on Hull St reinstated.

      Since the rents on Hanover St and Cross St are in the 5 figures, anyone who tried to start a pay to pee business would have to charge big $$$ during prime tourist season in order to just make the rent.

      The North End Chamber of Commerce has $$ . Maybe instead of advertising on taxis, they should consider kicking in some $ to reopen and staff the Hull St facilites or cut a deal with Citizens Bank to open a NECC visitors’ Center with bathroom facilities in the storefront vacated by Nick Verano’s Famous Deli.

  2. Where are all of the public restrooms in other large cities? I certainly don’t know of many in NYC. I just don’t see the lack of restrooms as an issue, and would prefer that tax dollars be spent elsewhere.

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