Canal Street

Canal Street New York

Canal Street is the major street of Manhattan’s Chinatown district and one of New York City’s prime shopping districts. This vibrant and colourful area is a major must-see for those who love the hustle and bustle of street shopping. Popular with both tourists and New York City locals, Canal Street is a favourite destination for those who like to haggle for a deal!

Shopping on Canal Street

The open storefronts on Canal Street offer all types of merchandise from electronics to scarves to t-shirts at very low prices. Street vendors abound, selling everything from watches to perfume. Canal Street is notorious for its counterfeit goods such as knock-offs of the most popular designer handbags, sunglasses and watches as well as illegal copies of CDs and DVDs. These items are often sold on street blankets on the sidewalk or in the back rooms of stores. Despite frequent raids by police, these knock-off products tend to pop back up on the street.

In addition to clothing, accessories and several jewelry and electronic shops, Canal Street also features many food vendors as well as markets selling a wide variety of Chinese food products including spices and teas.

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.

Visiting Canal Street in New York City

Canal Street and the Chinatown district are located in lower Manhattan. Canal separates Chinatown from the Little Italy area, so after working up an appetite shopping visitors can walk over to Mulberry Street for some of the best pizza in the city! Other nearby neighbourhoods include TriBeCa (which stands for Triangle Below Canal) located south of Canal and west of Broadway and the trendy SoHo district (which stands for South of Houston Street) which is situated to the north between Sixth Avenue and Broadway.

The west side of Canal leads to the Holland Tunnel, which takes you to New Jersey. Brooklyn is accessible from the east side of Canal via the Manhattan Bridge.

Store Type: Various Street Vendors

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