The de Blasio administration released an interactive map Wednesday showing the location of every sidewalk shed—the reviled wooden structures built to protect pedestrians from construction work happening above (or not).
The sheds, which are often referred to as scaffolding, have drawn the ire of New Yorkers because many owners leave them up for years. In 2016, Crain's looked into the billion-dollar scaffolding industry and the state law that created it and found that there were 190 miles of sidewalk sheds in the city. Some had been standing for well over a decade.
As of Wednesday, there were 7,342 sheds covering 290 miles, a 42% increase since 2016.
The Department of Buildings decided to release the data to give residents a better idea of when permits are issued and when they expire, and allow watchful neighbors to track sheds they suspect of overstaying their welcome.
"Real-time mapping not only increases our ability to monitor structures such as sidewalk sheds, but also shows how we are harnessing technology to hold building owners accountable," Rick Chandler, commissioner of the department, said in a statement.
Many attempts to reduce the proliferation of unwarranted scaffolding have been made over the years. After New York City Housing Authority residents complained that scaffolding at their developments was left in place long after work finished, the state passed a bill requiring them to be removed. And in 2016, City Councilman Ben Kallos introduced a bill that would penalize owners who leave scaffolding up when work is not being done, though the legislation has yet to gain traction.