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Toilet revamps flush out cruising history

Sun 19 Jul 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News

Auckland Council’s looking for ideas for revamping a number of city toilet blocks, some of which have long histories as cruising spots. This block on the corner of Customs and Sturdee Streets is among those up for tender A document looking at the history of the buildings, Caught Short, says that from the late 19th century there are recordings of men meeting in public toilets for sexual liaisons. “Closures were enforced and in the early 20th century measures were put in place to stop men leaving each other messages. However, none of this stopped men meeting at public facilities for sex,” it says. “Whilst homosexuality was illegal, public toilets were a common place to meet for casual sexual encounters – especially for men who did not openly identify as homosexual. Unfortunately, along with the fun there could be a very dark side to these facilities with beatings and blackmail being common occurrences.” The piece says many of the public toilets in central Auckland received nicknames for use within the gay community. “The toilet in Albert Street was called the Spanish Steps; Albert Park toilets were Paton Place; those frequenting the Domain visited The Vienna Woods. Toilets along the tramways had more explicit monikers.” Five of the heritage buildings have been confirmed suitable for tender. They are at Customs Street West, Wellesley Street East, the corner of Market Place and Sturdee Street, Kingsland Rail Station and the Sandringham Reserve. Similar projects in New Zealand and overseas have seen public toilets transformed into cafes, bars, retail spaces, galleries, salons and more. Auckland Council is seeking creative suggestions from operators, who will also preserve the unique histories of thebuildings.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 19th July 2015 - 10:00am

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