Familiar Annoyance of City Life is Widespread Enough to Constitute Potential Public Safety Hazard
March 15, 2010 (New York, NY) – Borough President Scott M. Stringer released a study today that found roughly 4 in 10 locations along 13 of the busiest corridors in the Borough of Manhattan do not display their addresses. Some of the highest incidents were found along East 42nd Street and Columbus Avenue, with over 50 percent of buildings lacking visible addresses.
“The lackadaisical policy regarding building addresses in this borough raises questions about public safety and quality of life,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “Right now, finding a street address on even our busiest roads can be aggravating, and even worse, can waste valuable time in the event of an emergency. We need to get serious about creating a system for enforcement that will end decades of confusion.”
In all, the survey looked at 1,837 locations. It found that 729 or 39.7 percent of those locations were unmarked.
According to the City’s Administrative Code, building owners are required to display their house numbers so that they are visible from the sidewalk in front of the building at all times. Each Borough President has the authority to establish and enforce rules relating to the size and placement of house numbers.
In an effort to spur compliance and modernize the Administrative Code, Borough President Stringer is proposing the following recommendations:
The Department of Sanitation (DOS) should be given enforcement powers for buildings that do not have their numbers labeled externally. Just as DOS supplements the enforcement efforts of other agencies responsible for quality of life matters visible on our streets, such as the size and placement of sidewalk cafes, the involvement of DOS would help to enlist New Yorkers in fixing this problem.
The City Council should pass legislation mandating that all doors for residences or businesses in a building be labeled with an address number. Currently, only the main address (the entrance deemed the main point of entry) of a building must be labeled. This can be confusing if the main address is on an avenue, but there are doors on street side of a building.
In the study conducted by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, 13 street segments of approximately 1,000 yards in length were identified. The 13 street corridors cover all parts of the borough, from 181st Street at the north to Cedar Street at the south. Seven of the segments are streets that run East-West, while six are segments that run North-South. Using the 2006 Sanborn Map of the Borough of Manhattan, MBPO researchers recorded whether buildings on their assigned street segments displayed an address. Businesses, residences and other locations observed by researchers that did not appear on the Sanborn maps were recorded as well.
“The lack of visible street addresses poses both a nuisance and a potential real public safety hazard,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “I commend Borough President Stringer on his work on this survey and join him in his call for a update and modernization of the City’s Administrative Code.”
“When a building doesn't have a legible street number, it not only means inconvenience,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried. “If ambulance crews, firefighters, or police can't quickly find the right building, lives can be lost.”
The breakdown of street segments is as follows:
181st Street, between Cabrini & Amsterdam: 41.9% of 117 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
125th Street, between Fredrick Douglass & Lexington: 40.6% of 180 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
W. 96th Street, between CPW & Riverside: 24.7% of 85 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
E. 86th Street, between Madison & East End: 36.6% of 161 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Lexington Ave., between 70th & 86th: 38% of 163 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Columbus Ave., between 67th & 83rd: 53.8% of 182 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
8th Ave., between 42nd & 59th: 58.2% of 165 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
42nd Street, between 6th Ave & 1st Ave: 54.7% of 75 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
23rd Street, between 10th Ave. & 5th Ave: 33% of 185 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
1st Ave., between 1st & 18th: 24.7% of 178 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Canal Street, between Bowery & Hudson: 37.8% of 156 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Greenwich, between Murray & Spring: 48.7% of 119 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Broadway, between Cedar & Franklin: 20% of 55 locations surveyed with no labeled address.
Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer • 212.669.8300
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The Manhattan Borough Presidentís Office is an Equal Opportunity Employer.