garment district arcade lobby office midtown untapped cities samantha sokolInside the “Bricken Arcade” between 37th and 38th streets

Here’s a fun trick: several of the lobbies of Garment District buildings are arcades that go mid-block between streets. For those of you who are thinking Garment District offices have PacMan, we’re sorry to disappoint. This means, though, that if you’re walking down 38th Street thinking it was 39th Street, you could cut through an office building to get where you need to go. But why do these arcades, or, “through block lobbies” exist?

According to Andrew Dolkart, Columbia GSAPP Professor and guest curator of the 2013 exhibition “URBAN FABRIC: Building New York’s Garment District” at the Skyscraper Museum, in an e-mail to Untapped Cities:

“These arcades permitted entrances on both streets and the provision of only a single set of elevators in the center of the deep building…Most of those in the mid-block loft buildings, such as the Greeley Arcade, offered few amenities of the sort that one would find in a true shopping arcade, such as the Burlington Arcade in London.”

bricken arcade office lobby garment district midtown new york city nyc untapped cities

While arcades are clearly efficient, we at Untapped are still wondering why they are so populous in the Garment District, and not as much in other neighborhoods. We’re going to speculate that mid-block arcades may have been constructed to aid the circulation of workers in the Garment District, who often go from one building to another to pick up supplies in a specialty shop, move samples to a showroom and more.

garment district arcade lobby office midtown untapped cities samantha sokol3Another arcade, located near 40th street on 7th avenue

Despite our efforts to bring back the Garment District with this truly “untapped” guide to the neighborhood, New Yorkers still can’t help but see it as the kind of place you only go from nine to five. Yet, one of our favorite secrets, the freight entrance restaurants, are right in this business zone. Also, for another quirky New York arcade with no video games, check out this Gold Arcade in the Diamond District, as well as 6 1/2 Avenue in Midtown!