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a large tree in a garden

Poking through the top of flower beds is the spire of the old underground public toilets located in Hyde Park at the North-East corner of the intersection of Park and Elizabeth Streets in the CBD.

These facilities were one of several underground facilities built during the early years of the 1900s. During the 1800s the lack of public toilets saw a growing concern over the number of men who were urinating in public. As a result, the council of Sydney installed large cast-iron urinals for men only. The last remaining “pissoir” can be found at the beginning of George Street, underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can find these when you are on your 24 Hour Sydney itinerary

In 1900 the bubonic plague brought a sharper focus placed on public health and sanitation. During the early years of the 1900s the first underground public restroom for men were opened in Moore Street (between Pitt and Castlereagh). Additional facilities were built at the intersection of Liverpool and Oxford Streets, Darlinghurst Road (near William Street) and at Bourke and Forbes Streets in Darlinghurst. This Hyde Park public toilet was opened in 1909. This, and along with one located at Macquarie Place, are the only remaining evidence of those times.

These underground bathrooms were operational from 5.00 am until midnight. The council employed attendants which worked shifts each day at each of the set of bathrooms around the city. Ventilation is said to have been an issue but it was helped by having two entrances, one for entering and one for leaving.

Eventually they were soon ripped up but two were filled in with sand to preserve them as they were no longer in use. #yougottalovesydney

IMAGE CREDIT: Author unknown