In the News: The Corrosion of Canal Street

••• Curbed has a long look at Canal Street, from end to end, asking “How has the city let such a vital artery become so corroded?” The article makes some good points, but I disagree with others. Does anyone really think the salt shed should have retail on the ground floor? And while a lot of storefronts in the Broadway area are empty, many of the actual buildings have been refurbished in recent years. Last but not least, the only way to “fix” Canal is to discourage traffic from using it as a cut-through across Manhattan.

••• Fashion designer Lela Rose had a work event at her home on White Street. —New York Times

••• “Amazon is testing a service that provides two-hour deliveries directly from Whole Foods stores, the tech giant’s latest push toward selling groceries in a way that allows customers to avoid physical stores altogether. According to the Seattle Times, Prime account holders in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can order items online and an employee will go and remove them from the shelves at his or her Whole Foods. […] A Prime courier will then collect and deliver the items in the one- or two-hour time window, the website promises.” —Grub Street



  1. Congestion pricing, perhaps, would help Canal Street.

  2. “the only way to “fix” Canal is to discourage traffic from using it as a cut-through across Manhattan.”

    Agreed. Congestion pricing, as suggested by James above, would be one way to achieve this goal.

    Another step that would make a huge difference: Finally get rid of all the counterfeit sellers. They create an atmosphere of decay and lawlessless, they trash the streets, urinate in the doorsteps, block the sidewalks so no one can get by (even blocking the wheelchair ramps). It’s a disgrace.

    And a radical idea: Commercial rent-control, or at least some kinds of breaks, to get businesses to move into these vacated ground-floor spaces.

  3. I just looked over the photos of the Curbed article…
    One problem those photos clearly show is the awful state of all the buildings in the Western stretch of Canal, due to graffiti vandalism. Surely that first impression of “urban wasteland” discourages business from opening there as well.

  4. I hate to burst anybody’s bubble, but Canal Street is in fact a cut through across Manhattan. Any limitation on traffic simply pushes that traffic on to narrower neighborhood streets not intended as a cut through across Manhattan.

    • Canal Street is a free, costless, no-toll cut through across Manhattan, and not the only way to go from Long Island to New Jersey. Congestion pricing may lead these very drivers to drive on alternative bridges and highways that have tolls but do not go through Manhattan.