You may have read this information in many trivia pages: the Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as necessary. But have you ever wondered why? Why get into all that trouble of constructing more than needed?
Let’s find out.
First of all, this statement is true. The Pentagon has indeed extra bathrooms but there’s actually a pretty simple explanation for it. (the article continues after the ad)
The construction of the Pentagon started on September 11, 1941 (yes, that’s September 11) and was concluded on January 15, 1943. During that time, and despite what you see in the movies were white and black troops are often seen to fight side by side during WWII, America was still segregated by race. Even though President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which strictly prohibited racial segregation among federal employees, the authorities at Virginia (Pentagon’s home state) chose to ignore it and insisted that the facility should be segregated.
In his very interesting book, The Pentagon: A History, author Steve Vogel explains that Colonel Groves called constructing engineer Captain Clarence Renshaw and asked for separate restrooms for black and white people:
“I’m calling to find out whether you have made any provisions for separate design for the different classes of people in the War Department Building. By that I mean separate toilet rooms for black and white as required by the Virginia law, and if you haven’t taken such precautions that you are to do so immediately.”
And this is the reason why extra bathrooms were built into the Pentagon. That being said, they were never identified as a result of racial segregation laws. This is because President Roosevelt himself visited the Pentagon during its construction phase on May 2, 1942 and insisted on the Executive Order that banned discrimination.
Since its opening, all Pentagon’s facilities were open to both white and black War Department employees, thus being, for a short period of time, the only non-segregated building in the state of Virginia.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: How Do Blind People Know When To Stop Wiping?
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Sources: The Pentagon: A History | Pentagon Built with Extra Bathrooms Due to Racial Segregation? | 9 Things You May Not Know About the Pentagon