West Broadway is a north-south street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, separated into two parts by Tribeca Park. The northern part begins at Tribeca Park, near the intersection of Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), Walker Street and Beach Street in Tribeca. It runs northbound as a one-way street past Canal Street and becomes two-way at the intersection with Grand Street one block farther north. West Broadway then operates as a main north-south thoroughfare through SoHo until its northern end at Houston Street, on the border between SoHo and Greenwich Village. North of Houston Street, it is designated as LaGuardia Place, which continues until Washington Square South.
The southern part of West Broadway runs southbound from Tribeca Park through the TriBeCa neighborhood, ending at Park Place. Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, West Broadway continued southward into the World Trade Center site, ending at Vesey Street. It was once considered "Rotten Row".
West Broadway was once two streets: Chapel Street below Canal Street, and Laurens Street above it.
In the early 1750s, Trinity Church laid down a street grid on its property, known as King's Farm, between the Hudson River and Broadway in lower Manhattan. About the same time, Trinity founded King's College, now Columbia University, and donated a plot of land bordered by Barclay, Murray, and Church Streets for its campus, to which the school moved in 1760. According to a 1755 map, "Chappel Street" was part of this grid, running from Barkly (Barclay) to just past Warrens (Warren) Street and ending at the palisade which protected the north end of the city. In the 1760s, Trinity Church ceded its streets between Fulton and Reade Streets to the city and Anthony Rutgers' heirs, owners of the land north of Reade Street, mapped their property into streets and lots. In the 1790s, Chapel Street was graded and paved from Murray to Reade Streets and extended to Leonard Street.
In 1831, the New York City Common Council renamed the two blocks of Chapel Street between Barclay and Murray Streets "College Place". A decade later Chapel Street was renamed "West Broadway" with the same purpose as that behind the renaming of East Broadway, to reduce the traffic congestion on Broadway itself, but both names were used for over twenty more years. An 1835 map calls Chapel Street "West Broadway" but an 1850 map calls it "Chapel Street". Around 1850, the two blocks from Murray to Chambers Street were renamed to be part of College Place.
Laurens Street belonged to a different grid. In 1788, the Bayard family, dividing their farm into blocks and lots for sale, laid down eight streets parallel to Broadway, numbered from east to west, plus seven cross streets. A few years later, the numbered streets were named, and by the turn of the century they were renamed, for Revolutionary War officers, including Henry Laurens (see nearby map). By the 1830s, the neighborhood was a red-light district nicknamed "Rotten Row", and by the 1860s it was beset by poverty, filth, and violent crime. An 1860 proposal to widen Laurens Street and extend it north one block to Washington Square Park was carried out in 1869 and 1870. In addition, a roadway was built to connect West Broadway to Fifth Avenue, introducing carriage traffic into Washington Square Park, and Laurens Street was officially renamed South Fifth Avenue in an attempt to improve its image.
The Sixth Avenue "El", formally the Metropolitan Elevated Railway, opened on June 5, 1878. It ran above College Place, West Broadway, and South Fifth Avenue from Murray Street, where it turned from Church Street, to Amity (West 3rd) Street, where it turned to Sixth Avenue.
The 1860 proposal to widen Laurens Street had accompanied a proposal to widen College Place and extend it southward to Greenwich Street. It was finally carried out in 1895, together with another name change: both it and South Fifth Avenue were made part of West Broadway.
The Sixth Avenue El was abandoned on December 4, 1938 and razed in 1939.
The section of the street north of Houston Street is named "LaGuardia Place" after former mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, and features LaGuardia Gardens, between West 3rd and Bleecker Streets, which includes a commissioned statue of the "Little Flower", as LaGuardia was nicknamed. Sculpted by Neil Estern, with a pedestal designed by architect Ruth Shapiro, the bronze statue was dedicated in 1994, and was commissioned and donated to the city by the Friends of LaGuardia Place. The sculpture was commissioned as part of a project to beautify and revitalize that section of the street, whose buildings had been torn down many years before by Robert Moses to be part of the Fifth Avenue South connector to his never-built Lower Manhattan Expressway.
The downtown M20 bus runs on West Broadway from the five-way intersection with Varick Street and Leonard Street, where Varick Street merges into West Broadway, until Chambers Street, where it turns right/west off West Broadway.
The Franklin Street and Chambers Street stations of the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (1 2 3 trains) are located on West Broadway.