Scaffolding: The Found Art of New York City or The Anatomy of Annoyance?

December 02, 2016

Are scaffolds taking over New York? As New Yorkers, should we embrace scaffolds as a part of New York or are they truly a nuisance? Why do scaffolds even exist in the first place? These are all questions that come our collective attention when exploring the 30th Senatorial District and our neighborhoods of Harlem, East Harlem/El Barrio, the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights and  Morningside Heights. 

The mandatory presence of scaffolds traces back, in many ways, to the tragic death of a college student in 1979—Grace Gold—who was struck and killed by a large piece of falling masonry in Morningside Heights.  A year after the incident occurred, the City enacted Local Law 10 which mandated the installation of a scaffolding and a sidewalk shed whenever restoration work was in effect and was deemed necessary.  Over time, this law was expanded to require inspections of side and rear facades as well as the full inspection of buildings that are six stories or higher every five years.  Owing to many factors, including building owners taking time to comply with the law, scaffolding has found a permanent home on many city streets. 

Last year, the Senate passed a bill that Assemblyman Rodriguez and I sponsored requiring the Housing Authority to remove all unnecessary sidewalk sheds and scaffolds that have been lingering around for years even when construction was not taking place.  While our legislation removed many miles of unnecessary scaffolding, it only addressed a fraction of the global issue.   

I welcome  you to take a walk through our neighborhoods and reflect on the sheds and scaffolding that are taking over our community. I invite you to share your thoughts with me in the space below on whether or not we should embrace scaffolds as a part of New York City or if they are in fact hiding the true beauty of New York City.  Please also feel free to submit pictures or content in the below webform.


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