Saturday, June 22, 2024

Crime and Transport Availability

Urban planners and civil engineers, when not bemoaning American "car culture," tacitly assume that transportation is an unlimited good - the more accessible transportation is, the better. Is it really, though?

There's some evidence showing this is not the case. Cash Jordan, an NYC resident and YouTube videographer, recently compared (Cash Jordan, 2024) two malls in Lower Manhattan. One of them, the Fulton Center Mall, is on the verge of closing, while the other, the Oculus Mall, is thriving. The proximal difference is the level of crime at the two locations, but the ultimate difference is due to transportation accessibility.

The Oculus Mall located at the WTC in Lower Manhattan.

The Fulton Center Mall is built around the busiest MTA subway station in Lower Manhattan, and the shopping experience was an “add on” to the station – the mall was built where people get on and off the subway. The mall is in the process of closing after most of the shops there left due to the large amount of retail theft (Manna, 2024), and the shoplifters are using the subway or the exits to the streets to make their getaways (Cash Jordan, 2024). The mall itself is policed by the NYPD, and the subway is policed by the NYPD and the NY National Guard.

Meanwhile, the Oculus Mall, located close to the World Trade Center, is built adjacent to a subway station. The retail experience is the primary purpose of the mall, and there are fewer ways for shoplifters to either escape to the subway or to the street. And, since the subway at that station also serves New Jersey, it is secured by the Port Authority Police, which is better funded and staffed than the NYPD. Crime is not common at all in the Oculus, and the mall is thriving.

Jordan attributes the difference to several factors – that the Oculus caters to “high end” customers, that there are different policing agencies, etc. – but he argues that the main difference is the accessibility of transportation at those two malls: getting to the subway or to the street is more difficult at the Oculus than at Fulton Center, thus making the Oculus a less tempting target.



Cash Jordan. (24 March 2024). It Begins… Entire NYC Mall Closes Over Theft [Video]. YouTube.

Manna, V. (12 March 2024). “Westfield says crime is forcing it to break lease at Fulton Transit Center.” Spectrum News NY1. Retrieved on 21 June 2024 from

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