I’m currently visiting New York and noticed that most buildings have scaffolding that you can walk underneath (e.g. the Empire State Building).

I was wondering if this is;

  1. Because of construction
  2. Or to protect pedestrians from objects that might fall down of high buildings

Example: enter image description here

  • 9
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it has nothing at all to do with travel. Commented May 28, 2019 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


These structures are generally sidewalk sheds, as they usually serve to protect the sidewalk during construction, demolition, and certain types of renovations as required by the building code (such as those involving the exterior facade or hoisting equipment). They're intended to protect people on the sidewalk without causing the disruption and harm to businesses that would come from closing the area to pedestrians. There are thousands of them in the city at any given time, and some are up for years (sometimes many years).

They are not required simply because of proximity to a tall building. Short buildings may have sidewalk sheds if they are under construction, while tall buildings not undergoing renovations will not have sidewalk sheds.

The Empire State Building is working on a large renovation project. Since that project includes a new entrance and other exterior changes, where any falling tools or material could injure those below, I presume a sidewalk shed was required.

  • 5
    I think this answer is good, but should emphasize that these sidewalk sheds are erected for construction and not in general to protect the sidewalk or pedestrians as OP assumed in his second point.
    – Ian
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 6:46
  • @Ian Thanks. I tried to clarify that a bit more. Commented May 28, 2019 at 8:13
  • 1
    The reason this isn't obvious is that there are no orange "Construction Zone" signs for the building construction as there would be for road construction. (TBH, I'm not sure NYC puts up "Construction Zone" signs within the city. I think it's just expected that the entire city's roads are in a continual state of construction/repair.)
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 12:30
  • Also, you would think that even in New York they would build something more aesthetic if it was meant to be a permanent structure.
    – Moyli
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:32

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