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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




There Are Now 280 Miles of Sidewalk Sheds in the City

Park Slope

Sidewalk Shed Map

New York City's oldest sidewalk shed, at 277 First Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn (image via Google Maps)

May 4, 2017

For 11 long years it has stood there in front of the building at 277 First Street in the brownstone heart of Park Slope, Brooklyn, a sidewalk shed that seems to have grown roots into the concrete beneath its feet. It is the oldest of its kind in the city, and it’s part of the staggering 280 miles worth of sheds that now stand over city sidewalks – enough to encircle the island of Manhattan eight times. Intended to protect passersby from falling construction debris, the sheds also, according to neighbors, block light, impede foot traffic, and collect litter, loiterers, and people up to no good. The ancient Park Slope shed is also included in a new digital map of sidewalk sheds put out by the Department of Buildings (DOB), the New York Times reports.

“It becomes part of the city landscape; you dodge it every day,” said Kwanele Mpanza, 34, a real estate agent who lives around the corner from the aging Park Slope scaffolding. “It makes it more difficult to get where you need to go. It’s an additional obstacle.”

Now the City Council is considering legislation targeting scaffolding that stays too long, while the DOB’s digital map is designed to keep better track of the ubiquitous structures that proliferate as older buildings need mandated maintenance work and a construction boom produces more towers. In a sweep last year, building inspectors ordered 150 dismantled because work had been finished.

The city began requiring scaffolding as part of a 1980 city law – now known as Local Law 11 – that established regular inspections of building facades. The City Council passed the law after Grace Gold, a Barnard College student, was killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from a 1912 apartment house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Today, there are sidewalk sheds in front of 7,752 buildings, according to the DOB.

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