Only in Vienna by Duncan J.D. Smith

78 31 1 st District Vienna at your Convenience 1 st District (Innere Stadt), the subterranean public conveniences near Graben 22; take U-1, U-3 to Stephansplatz Toilets have long been a measure of civilisation. The earliest in the royal palace at Knossos on Crete date back to 1500 BC. Under the Romans there was an explosion in toilet technology and Vindobona (as Vienna was known then) would have been well plumbed. Thereafter toilets disap- pear and by the Middle Ages the Viennese were emptying their waste directly into the street. It was normal European practice and disease was rife. Something needed to change and so in the mid-eighteenth century central Vienna received Europe’s first modern sewer system. Vienna owes its public conveniences to one man, Wilhelm Beetz (1844-1921), a court official and the son of a dairyman. In 1880 he offered the city a twenty five year contract for public conveniences based on those installed in Berlin. The plan was accepted and by 1910 there were seventy three facilities across the city. Many are still in use and they come in two forms. One is an octagonal pavilion made from prefabricated iron panels inside which is concealed a gentlemen’s urinal. The urinal itself is not porcelain but metal, and is coated in special oil containing disinfectant. No water is used, meaning the facility never freezes, and odours are kept to a minimum. Beetz patented this so-called oelurinoir in 1883 and received numerous honours as a result. A fine example from 1903 can be seen on Puchsbaumplatz in Favoriten. The second form is more elaborate. A roofed rectangular pavilion set on a stone base includes separate entrances for both sexes. Inside there are four cubicles on each side, as well as a heated attendant’s office, and the usual urinal for men. A recently restored example stands along- side the MAK on Parkring, replete with a decorative coloured glass border beneath its roofline and price list on the door. A signpost to the subterranean public conveniences on Graben