21-Year-Old Scaffolding in Harlem Finally Removed, – But More Work Remains to do

After 21 long years, the scaffolding at 409 Edgecombe Ave., a historic Harlem building that once housed renowned figures like W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall, was finally removed, marking a truly remarkable Christmas miracle.

The scaffolding had become a well-known landmark.

“Although it held the record as the city’s longest-standing scaffolding, these ‘forever sheds’ are unfortunately a frequent sight.”

On average, scaffolds remain in place for a duration of 497 days, which is often much longer than required for any essential maintenance or repairs.

Cash-strapped owners often choose to leave a “sidewalk shed” in place, knowing that there are no significant penalties for doing so. In some cases, they may even opt to keep the shed as a temporary solution instead of investing in expensive repair work.


Despite the negative impact on businesses, the rise in crime rates, and the overall impression of a city in disrepair, the sky-blocking eyesores continue to persist.

In July, Mayor Adams introduced his plan called “Get Sheds Down” to expedite the removal of the sidewalk scourges.

The city had almost 9,000 sheds with active permits, including 1,000 that had been in place for over three years. Collectively, these sheds covered approximately 400 miles of sidewalk.

The city has taken action by removing 500 sheds, which amounts to approximately 11 miles or less than 3% of the total linage. Out of these sheds, 75 had been standing for more than five years.


It will take approximately 16 years to bring all the sheds down at the current rate. However, it is important to note that more sheds will likely be built during this time.

Credit should be given to the mayor for implementing significant changes that have a tangible impact. However, it would be even more beneficial if other politicians in the city would also support and implement further measures to improve the overall quality of life for New Yorkers.

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