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Check Out 9 Public Urinals From 19th Century Paris

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In the late 19th century, Paris had plenty of grand public urinals that dotted the streets and parks. Around 1865, architectural photographer Charles Marville—who was commissioned by the city on several different occasions to document neighborhoods and infrastructure—cataloged these ornate facilities in a series of photographs. According to FlashBak, those pictures and many of Marville’s other Parisian images were shown at the 1878 Paris World’s Fair.

Gaze upon some of the many places where a Parisian man in the late 1800s could relieve himself, including some that give new meaning to the idea of peeing in the bushes:

[h/t Flashbak]

All images courtesy the State Library of Victoria via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

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AFP//Getty Images
China Is Using Technology to Thwart Toilet Paper Thieves
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AFP//Getty Images

Tourism officials in Beijing face an unusual privy predicament: As The New York Times reports, thieves are swiping sheets of toilet paper from tourist site bathrooms, forcing administrators to install toilet paper dispensers with facial recognition software.

Due to a boom in domestic travel, the AP reports that tourism authorities have launched a $3.6 billion campaign to overhaul the capital city’s public toilets—particularly the infamously crude tourist bathrooms at popular attractions. Around 34,000 new public bathrooms are slated for construction; many of them will be built in the Western-style sit-down design, instead of the ubiquitous squat design. In addition, around 23,000 bathrooms will undergo renovations.

Some facilities are also equipped with the technologically advanced toilet paper dispensers, which cost around $720 each. When visitors enter these bathrooms, they are required to stare at a wall-mounted computer for three seconds. A machine provides them with a single, two-foot sheet of paper; after that, the visitor must wait nearly 10 minutes for a second one.

Toilet paper is a rarity in China, where most public restrooms either don’t have paper, or provide visitors with a single roll to share among themselves. However, it’s a required amenity for tourist sites if they are to receive top ratings from the country’s National Tourism Authority. Unfortunately, it can also make them a magnet for thieves.

For the past decade, Beijing’s popular Temple of Heaven Park has stocked its bathrooms with toilet paper, and locals wanting to replenish their own personal supply often stole it. Now, the park is testing out the face-recognizing toilet paper dispensers. Administrators say they will install the special dispensers in all of the park’s public bathrooms if the machines do, indeed, put an end to their toilet troubles.

[h/t The New York Times]

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Parisian Street Urinals Turn Pee Into Compost
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In many cities, getting caught peeing in public can saddle you with a hefty fine, or even land you in court. But there are simply not enough public restrooms to accommodate the needs of bar hoppers, the homeless, and people with weak bladders. Some cities have attempted to rectify this problem with free-standing bathrooms, while others have installed retractable urinals that rise up from the ground at night. (Amsterdam has a version that’s made for women to use, too.)

Paris is dealing with the perils of stray pee in a more attractive way, as Co.Design reports. Uritrottoir, a public urinal created by the Nantes-based design studio Faltazi, is a flower bed urinal that creates compost out of men’s pee. The city has bought two of the urinals so far, with plans to purchase more if they prove effective.

The flower boxes sit on top of a compost bin filled with hay. The urine is diverted into the straw, adding an extra source of nitrogen to the composting process. It doesn't directly provide compost to the flowers atop the bed, though; the plants are just for a little extra class. In order to make sure that no individual Urtrottoir overflows, the bins have wireless sensors, so someone can monitor the pee levels remotely and replace the bins, transporting the golden-soaked straw to a facility outside the city. According to The New York Times, it will cost around $865 a month to pay workers to clean the two toilets and haul away the pee-straw mix.

Faltazi previously created a funnel that can be installed in hay bales at music festivals to create outdoor, compost-friendly urinals in any location. Placed on sidewalks and in secluded corners, the flower-box version gives men out and about in the city an opportunity to relieve themselves in a way that doesn’t require a city cleanup crew. The boxes come with a privacy shield much like a regular urinal would have, so passersby don’t get an eyeful. And when no one is actively adding compost materials, they just look like a nice little flower bed.

It's a stand-up only design, though, so women will have to keep holding it for the foreseeable future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy Faltazi.


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