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Delancey Street

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Title: Delancey Street  
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Subject: Bowery, Lower East Side, Ratner's, Grand Street (Manhattan), Williamsburg Bridge
Collection: Lower East Side, Streets in Manhattan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Delancey Street

Delancey Street at Bowery

Delancey Street is one of the main thoroughfares of New York City's Lower East Side in Manhattan, running from the street's western terminus at the Bowery to its eastern end at FDR Drive, connecting to the Williamsburg Bridge and Brooklyn at Clinton Street. It is an eight-lane, median-divided street west of Clinton Street, and a service road for the Williamsburg Bridge east of Clinton Street. West of Bowery, Delancey Street becomes Kenmare Street, which continues as a four-lane, undivided street to Lafayette Street.

Delancey Street is named after James De Lancey, Sr., whose farm was located in what is now the Lower East Side.

Businesses range from delis to check-cashing stores to bars. Delancey Street has long been known for its discount and bargain clothing stores. Famous establishments include the Bowery Ballroom, built in 1929, Ratner's kosher restaurant (now closed), and the Essex Street Market, which was built by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to avoid pushcart congestion on the neighborhood's narrow streets. Until the middle 20th century, Delancey Street was a main shopping street in the predominantly Jewish Lower East Side. Since the late 2000s, the neighborhood around Delancey is a mix of young professionals and artists along with working-class African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Chinese. Gentrification has brought more upscale retail and nightlife establishments.

The New York City Subway F trains, running on the IND Sixth Avenue Line, and the J M Z trains, running on the BMT Nassau Street Line, stop at Delancey Street – Essex Street (F J M Z trains). The J Z trains also stop at Bowery. The M9, M14, M15, M103, B39 New York City Bus routes stop on Delancey Street. The Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, beneath Delancey and Essex Streets, was a station and balloon loop for streetcars crossing the Williamsburg Bridge from Brooklyn. In 2011, a proposal was presented to create Lowline, an underground public park in which natural light would be directed using fiber optics to create a setting in which trees and grass could be grown indoors.[1][2]

Because of the extreme width of Delancey Street, and the high rate of fatalities along it, safety measures have been erected along its length. This includes pedestrian plazas, bans on left turns along the street, and pedestrian countdown signals.[3]

Nolita Hotel, Kenmare and Elizabeth Streets

Kenmare Street

Kenmare Street runs westward for a total of five blocks from the Bowery to Lafayette Street. It is a major thoroughfare for traffic travelling westbound to the Holland Tunnel. The street was founded in 1911 by Tim Sullivan, the son of immigrants Daniel O’Sullivan and Catherine Connelly, who came from Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland.[4]

In popular culture

Film and TV

  • In the 1932 film Taxi!, James Cagney plays an Irish cabdriver who can speak Yiddish, prompting a cop to ask "what part of Ireland do your folks come from?" Cagney replies, "Delancey Street, thank you!"
  • A 1983 episode of The A-Team, titled The Out-Of-Towners, was centered around an extortion racket operating on Delancey Street.
  • In the 1988 Disney animated film Oliver and Company, the song sung by Dodger (Billy Joel), "Why Should I Worry", mentions the street: "One minute I'm in Central Park, then I'm down on Delancey Street."
  • The 1988 film Crossing Delancey is a romantic comedy focusing on the different shades of urban life in the area.
  • In the 1992 Disney film Newsies, the song Carry the Banner contains the line, "Harlem to Delancey."
  • The 1994 film Rhythm Thief opens on Delancey Street and features a foot chase on same.
  • A 1974 episode of the TV series McCloud was titled "Shivaree on Delancey Street".
  • The 1997 film Mimic directed by Guillermo del Toro is partially set at the Delancey Street – Essex Street subway station.
  • "Chrystie Delancey" is thought to be a woman's name by several characters in the 2000 film Happy Accidents, starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Marisa Tomei, until it is revealed to be a reference to the corner of Chrystie and Delancey streets.


  • The Age of Rockets mentioned Delancey Street in the track "What Story Down There Awaits Its End?" along with "Stitches To Show Something Is Missing" on their album Hannah. "Delancey Street trembles beneath/as you rise to meet the day".
  • The Desi Arnaz film "Cuban Pete", featuring Lucille Ball, has the line "They call me Sally Sweet, I'm the Queen of Delancey Street".
  • The song "Sunken-Eyed Girl" off of the album Haughty Melodic by Mike Doughty is about a "sunken-eyed girl on Delancey Street".
  • Harlem rapper Cam'ron mentions it in his cover of "Weekend Girl": "Dated Nancy Niece, we did Delancey Street".
  • The Fun Lovin' Criminals' song "South Side" contains a chorus which revolves around Delancey Street.
  • The well known 1925 song "Manhattan" by Rodgers and Hart says, "It's very fancy/ On old Delancey/ Street, you know."
  • DJ Kool Herc, the man widely acknowledged as the "inventor" of Hip-Hop, DJ'd his first party August 1973 in effort to raise money for his sister, Cindy Campbell, to buy back-to-school clothes from Delancey Street. As Cindy says in Jeff Chang's book Can't Stop, Won't Stop: "I was saving my money, because what you want to do for back to school is go down to Delancey Street instead of going to Fordham Road, because you can get the newest things that a lot of people don't have. And when you go back to school, you want to go with things that nobody has so you could look nice and fresh..."
  • The 1987 Sonic Youth song "Stereo Sanctity" refers to "satellites flashing down Orchard and Delancey."
  • The 1996 song "Lazybones" by Soul Coughing (with lead singer Mike Doughty) refers to "Cameraman sways to remember how the eye dances, drunkenness is a hand-held scrambling down Delancey, I come stumbling".
  • The cover of Jesse Malin's solo debut album in 2002, The Fine Art of Self Destruction was filmed at the Delancey Street subway station.
  • Regina Spektor mentions Delancey Street in her song "That Time", from the 2006 release Begin to Hope: "Hey, remember that time I found a human tooth, down on Delancey?"
  • Rachael Sage's ninth album, released in 2010, is Delancey Street, which is also the name of a song from the album.
  • Dana Dane, a popular Hip-Hop artist in the late 80's, released a song entitled "Delancey Street" on his 1987 album Dana Dane with Fame.[5]


  • In Neil Simon's play Brighton Beach Memoirs, the character "Jack" says "You live in a cold water flat on Delancey Street, bankruptcy is the one thing God spares you."



  1. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. "Inspired by High Line, Park Is Envisioned With Sights Set Low", The New York Times, November 21, 2011. Accessed November 21, 2011.
  2. ^ Plans for Delancey Underground presented to Community Board 3
  3. ^ Delancey Street 2012
  4. ^ The story of how New York's Kenmare St got its name from famine emigrants
  5. ^ Video on YouTube

External links

  • Delancey Street Storefronts - photographs of buildings and stores along Delancey Street.
  • Delancey Street: A New York Songline - a virtual walking tour
  • Cuban Pete - Desi and Lucy performing "Cuban Pete"
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