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How West Broadway Became One of NYC's Most Critical Streets

Lower Manhattan is filled with odd streets, from the obscure intersection of Jay and Staple (where you can own your own skybridge!), to Mill Lane and Edgar Street, which duke it out to be the city's shortest thoroughfare. But none are quirkier than West Broadway. The name alone has perplexed New Yorkers for generations. Is it really called that because it happens to be west of Broadway? (Yes.) Leading to the confusion is the fact that over the years the street has gone by so many monikers—Chapel Street, College Place, Laurens Street, South Fifth Avenue, LaGuardia Place—that it can be difficult to sort through what happened when. These days, New Yorkers have a tendency to take West Broadway for granted, but this short thoroughfare linking the World Trade Center to Washington Square provides a compact narrative of the development of the city, beginning with its life as a country lane and ending with today's multi-million dollar condo conversions in Soho and Tribeca.

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