Hopefully you find this post a wee bit interesting. This is a photo of the entrance to 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.
This was one of several underground facilities built during the early years of the 1900s. During the 1800s the lack of public facilities meant growing concerns over the number of men who were urinating in the street (a.k.a. a bush wee). As a result the council starting installing large cast-iron urinals for men. One of these fondly nicknamed “pissoirs” can still be visited under the harbour bridge in the Rocks. I’ll post on this in the coming weeks.
After the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1900 greater focus was placed on public health and sanitation. During the early years of the 1900s the first underground bathrooms were opened in Moore Street (between Pitt and Castlereagh). Additional bathrooms were built at the intersection of Liverpool and Oxford Streets, Darlinghurst Road (near William Street) and at Bourke and Forbes Streets in Darlinghurst. This last example still survives today. The Hyde Park bathroom in the above photo was opened in 1909.
I can’t be sure how long this lasted as it is said to have come from a Town Clerk’s report from 1903, but it sounds as if the network of underground bathrooms were open from 5am until midnight. They had attendents 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.
During the 1990s and early 2000s the bathrooms were filled in and no longer in use. But ideas have been raised in the last few years around turning some of them into trendy bars.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possibly but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.