The Enduring Presence of Sidewalk Sheds in New York City


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Upon Donald J. Trump’s return to the criminal courthouse at 100 Centre Street, a familiar sight greeted him – a steel-and-plywood parapet, reminiscent of a fake Christmas tree, shielding the sidewalk. These structures have become synonymous with the New York City streetscape, with over 8,500 sidewalk sheds lining the city’s streets, stretching a distance equivalent to Manhattan to Montreal if placed end to end.

Originally intended as temporary fixtures to protect pedestrians from falling debris during construction or repairs, many of these sidewalk sheds have become long-term fixtures. Surprisingly, close to 1,000 sheds have been in place for over three years, some even dating back to 2011, without any ongoing construction work at the sites.

The Enduring Presence of Sidewalk Sheds in New York City

Property owners often find it more cost-effective to maintain the sheds rather than address the underlying facades due to stringent local laws. This has resulted in these structures becoming enduring eyesores, overshadowing entire blocks in locations such as the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and the Wingate section of Brooklyn.

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