OLDNYC.COM--> Virtual Tour --> LOMEX (I-78) --> Watts Street to Elizabeth Street Picture Gallery #2

Broome Street, Watts Street and West Broadway, looking east.

Broome and Watts Streets currently allow vehicular traffic to go from east to west, via a one-way street configuration.  Looking up the street, we can see that Broome Street can accommodate two lanes of traffic, plus two parking lanes on each side of the street.  With this in mind, let's take a look at what nycroads.com has to tell us about the configuration of the highway in this area: "The elevated expressway, which was expected to handle 120,000 vehicles per day (AADT), was to have been constructed within a 250-to-250 foot-wide right-of-way, with a clearance of 50 to 60 feet between the edge of the expressway and the nearest buildings."

Broome Street, in it's present configuration of four vehicle lanes, could not possibly accommodate the width of an eight lane elevated highway.  Alignment proposals were to have the highway north of Broome Street.  This meant that a lot of buildings would needed to be razed for this effort.  Looking at this easterly view of Broome Street, one can see that the wrecking ball would have been extremely busy in an effort to clear land for the highway.

The Gowanus Expressway (I-278) elevated highway in the neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn gives a good indication of how an elevated highway and the surrounding buildings integrate with each other in an urban area.  As proposed, the LOMEX would have been much larger than the Gowanus configuration. The LOMEX was to provide eight lanes of highway, as opposed to the six lanes of highway that the Gowanus provides.  The Gowanus, as shown here, hovers slightly below the rooflines of the adjacent apartment buildings.  The LOMEX, if it was built, would have shared a similar characteristic if it was built adjacent to the buildings that line Broome Street in SoHo.  Even at a proposed clearance of 50 to 60 feet between the expressway edge and the nearest building, LOMEX still would have been very close to the existing properties that would have lined its right-of-way.  If the LOMEX was built as an elevated highway in the mid-1960's, it could be very reasonable to assume that today's community groups may have been talking about tunneling the highway, much like Brooklyn's community groups are talking about tunneling the Gowanus Expressway.

Watts Street and West Broadway, southwest corner.

These buildings would have been spared by the wrecking ball, since they would have resided south of the LOMEX right-of-way.  Still, depending on how high the elevated highway would have been at this point, a portion of the buildings may have been in the shadow of the expressway.

The location where Broome Street and Watts Street meet, in this view of the streets looking west.

If one looks at the buildings that line the south side of Watts Street (to the left of the picture), and one looks at the buildings that line the north side of Broome Street (to the right of the picture), and then look at the space in between, one may be able to imagine how wide the expressway would have been through this area.  A 350 foot-wide right-of-way is a pretty wide piece of property, and the highway may have even needed more space than what is represented here!

Examining space and building preservation issues, I wonder why Moses engineers didn't propose building a double-decked expressway above the right-of-way of Broome Street. Could a double-decked expressway possibly have been too tall for the area?  Would the ground support a double-decked expressway?  Would a double-decked expressway look even worse than a single-decked expressway in this area?

Here is a closer look at the Broome and Watts Street merge.  Within the island, artists have constructed an assortment of art work, made of various materials and shaped in multiple formats.

Venturing on one of the Broome Street's side streets, we see a green building in the middle of Greene Street.  These are the types of buildings that are represented in this area.  Five to six story buildings, with high ceilings and large windows, grace the area.  Industrial concerns were the prominent businesses at this location in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Notice the roof tops - they all have triangular facades that distinguish these buildings from other buildings.  Usually embedded in the triangle was the date that the buildings were constructed.

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