The City Where Scaffolding Is Older Than a Lot of Its Residents

New York has 280 miles of “sidewalk sheds.”
by | November 2017
(David Kidd)

New York City is known for its skyscrapers. But thanks to the large amount of scaffolding, or “sidewalk sheds,” that straddle the city’s walkways, it’s getting increasingly harder to take in the soaring architecture.

Intended as a temporary measure to protect people from falling debris, the sheds have become anything but.

There are now some 280 miles of sheds in the five boroughs, and some have been up for longer than a decade. As of this summer, the oldest scaffolding in town was erected nearly 12 years ago.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re not popular with residents or business owners. But since there are no legal deadlines for making repairs and removing the sheds, there’s not much to be done about them. For now, New Yorkers are forced to navigate the ubiquitous labyrinth of metal and wood, thankful they are at least safe from falling objects.