The Origins of Canal Street
Just like the name, a canal did exist at Canal Street. It was built in the early nineteenth century in order to drain the contaminated Collect Pond into the Hudson River. The Collect Pond provided fresh water to the city in the 1700s, but became terribly polluted by the increasing industry that boomed in the late eighteenth century that used it as a garbage dump, including the nearby breweries and tanneries.
After the pond was drained, the city filled the canal and covered it because it was extremely foul-smelling. It was then used as an underground sewer. Canal Street follows the angled path of the canal. In the early 1900s, this was the city’s main jewelry district and jewelry traders were prominent at the corner of Canal Street and Bowery. To this day there are several jewelry shops on the east side of the street. There are also a number of banks on the east side of Canal, and the landmark bronze-domed Citizens Savings Bank built in 1924 (now an HSBC branch) is situated on Bowery at Canal Street.