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King Of The Throne: One Of America’s Best Bathrooms Is In North Texas

When it comes to the business of doing No. 1 and No. 2, Sulphur Springs is No. 3.

That’s according to Cintas’ annual America’s Best Bathrooms contest – aka the “Bowl Games.”

In Sulphur Springs, the glass bathrooms on the square were ranked as the third best bathroom in the country.

Cintas, a restroom supplies company, presented 10 venues to the voters, who went online to choose a winner.

“When you’ve gotta go, these top potties provide sweet relief,” Cintas declared.

Sulphur Springs, which is about 80 minutes northeast of Dallas in Hopkins County, wanted to help revitalize downtown by providing public restrooms. They look like large glass boxes. You could call them glass potties.

The public restrooms are considered public art. And they've become a tourist attraction. Sulphur Springs brags that they have the “World Famous Glass Bathrooms.”

No looky-loos while you use the loo

Last year, the city debuted two all-glass bathrooms on the downtown square. Officials say they were the first of their kind in the country.

The bathrooms include one-way mirrors. From the outside, you see glass boxes reflecting trees, passing cars and the city’s downtown square. Inside, a one-way mirror allows you to look at people as you do your business.

But no worries. There are no looky-loos while you use the loo. Those on the outside can’t see you; only you can see them.

“Bathrooms are typically ugly no matter what you do -- how can you make them disappear?” city manager Marc Maxwell said. “You cover it with mirrors, that’s how, and why not make it a one-way mirror while you’re at it.”

The toilet is a stainless steel prison toilet – city officials wanted to make it difficult to break. The stainless steel construction also helps avoid rust. The bathroom comes with an air conditioner to combat the heat that hits the glass box in the summer.

"It's weird"

KLTV in Tyler visited the attraction.Visitors declared: “It’s different. ... It’s strange. ... It’s weird.”

One woman says she uses the bathroom and watches her kids as they play in the nearby square.

“You can see everyone outside and you feel like they can see you,” one visitor said.

Maxwell told the station: "It's like the windshield of your car except a whole lot thicker and a lot stronger and it's got that mirrored finish in between the layers."

Here's how Cintas describes the glass bathrooms:

This small Texas town took a big leap back in 2012 when they debuted two all–glass bathrooms on their downtown square, the first of their kind in the United States. The pair of glass potties didn’t come cheap though. The masterpieces cost the City a pretty penny — $54,000 to be exact. But it’s all in the name of art. Make that “functional art.” Part of the inspiration for this project came from Italian art piece, Monica Bonivicini’s ’Don’t Miss A Sec’ from 2004, which was on display outside an art museum in Switzerland. The structure was initially part of the overall exhibit, but when construction workers began using the glass bathroom, the idea of “functional art” evolved. In order for the illusion to work properly, the outside of the structure must be more lit than the inside. These bathrooms have no lights on the inside and in order to see at night, LED lights were placed on the outside of the structure, for the illusion to remain. Sulphur Springs has the only functional, permanent and code complying glass bathrooms constructed with one-way mirrors. Users of the facility can see out, however, no one can see in. The design includes a spacious wheelchair-accessible interior and a gleaming stainless steel toilet and sink.

Here’s the KLTV story about the bathrooms:

The Learning Channel visited the bathrooms, too:

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.