Kenneth Park Architects

KPA Presents Street Evolution: Canal Street

Street Evolution: Canal Street

You just stepped out of the 123, NQR or ACE train. With your feet planted firmly on the ground, you take in the sights of street vendors selling purses, watches, jewelry, clothing and other knickknacks. Stores are abound in the latest fashion and traffic is backed up as far as the eye can see.

The sun is shining brightly and you’re in a good mood despite the crowded sidewalks and the heckling of vendors. Alas, you are on Canal Street; one of the most well-known and beloved streets in Lower Manhattan.

Canal Street is actually a major hub that connects Jersey City New Jersey and Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge and runs east to west starting at East Broadway and cuts right through Chinatown and Little Italy.


A Tale of Two Cultures:


Canal Street:

Within this small space of NYC’s vast metropolis are two of the most culturally notable areas: Little Italy and China Town.


If you have ever found yourself in Chinatown, streets such as Bowery, Chrystie, and Centre might ring a bell. Famous blogs, Epicure and Culture describe the section below Delancey Street as “ a vast mixture of Asian culture that includes street vendors, amazing food, a constant buzz of Mandarin/Cantonese chatter and lots of people milling about just trying to get from one place to the next.”


The melting pot that is New York City, began developing the tiny area starting as early as 1800 .”The Chinatown that exists today started to come into fruition around the late 1800s. Being faced with discrimination from the West Coast, Chinese immigrants moved to the East Coast in search of a better life. During this time, a lot of small businesses started popping up on Mott Street. Once the immigrants became established, they started bringing over family members from their home country and Chinatown began to grow.”


A thriving haven for food marts, vendors and local businesses, Chinatown has delicious food options reminiscent of its eastern brilliance. Find yourself in the mood for dim sum, dumplings, noodles or tea? Head down to Doyers Street to try out neighborhood favorites like Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles.


During the day, Chinatown may seem like a  busy, bustling area filled to the brim with people and cluttered shops, but once the sun sets, your average store shop becomes the place to dance and rave. Chrystie and Delancey Street are lined with basement dive bars serving cocktails and packed dancefloors.




Chinatown isn’t the only city favorite among tourists and locals alike. A stone’s throw away rests Little Italy. Nestled “between Canal and Houston streets, Little Italy is a vestige and home for New York’s Italian population. If you were walking the streets of Little Italy over 100 years ago, you would see sights of glass storefronts and cramped tenements buildings, housing many of the Italian citizens who inhabited the area of that time.


Little Italy purveys nothing less than authenticity from the architecture to restaurants and food vendors. “Thousands of locals and tourists crawl the streets during the annual San Genaro festival, devouring scrumptious food, enjoying carnival games and plenty of night time entertainment.”




Join us every week for Street Evolution. We profile a New York City area/street and explore the amazing history it has to offer!


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