History of the Porta Potty

When we look at a construction or event site, our eyes glaze over porta potties as if they are part of the landscape. However, the history of the porta potty may be more interesting that you think. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of our most loved restroom solution.


The Call of Duty

The porta potty began as the “Elsan chemical closet” and was sold in Army & Navy Stores across the US. This was because they were originally used in World War II. Ancedotal evidence supports that they were not too popular among those in the military.

It was during this time that construction workers realized that they were losing valuable time because of time spent walking to nearby restrooms, away from the work site.

The portable restroom continued to evolve after World War II. During the Jim Crow Laws, African Americans were turned away from public toilets that were segregated by race. Because of this, many people traveled with portable toilets located in the trunk of their car. Far less luxurious than options than are afforded today.

Continuing The Evolution

Portable toilets continued to evolve. During the 50s and 60s several companies began manufacturing these facilities from wood and metal. They were extremely heavy and smelly – but they were better than nothing.

The 70s improved on this by creating an iteration made of fiberglass. This enabled workers because of the porta potty’s new found lightness. By the 80s, porta potties were almost entirely made of plastic – which is both more efficient and much cheaper to make.

Porta Potties continue to evolve by including new features to better fit the needs of not only workers, but event goers as well. Rent a John strives to be innovators in the portable toilet world by offering best-in-class services to our clients. To learn more about us and our services, click here.

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