At the time of the British occupation, Nicosia was still contained entirely within its Venetian walls. Although full of private gardens and amply supplied with water carried to public fountains in aqueducts, the streets remained unpaved and just wide enough for a loaded pack animal. Ôhe Venetians had diverted the river Pediaios north of the city, but the old riverbed still ran though the centre, creating an open sewer and rubbish dump, which sometimes flooded into the surrounding streets. Within three years of British rule, the riverbed was covered and is still today the town's main rain drain.
The municipality offered ownership of the area covered to labourers prepared to undertake the work. Much of it was done by builders from Kaimakli who thus became shop owners in Hermes Street. In 1881, macadamised roads through the town were completed to connect with the main roads to the coastal towns but no roads were asphalted until after World War I. The narrow streets with overhanging kiosks were made darker by the awnings, ‘tourathes', rigged up by the shopkeepers against the sun and rain. The cobbler's street, ‘Tsangarradon', was completely covered by a trellised vine. In 1928, the municipality brought about a major change in the character of the city when it decided to demolish the wooden shelters and awnings. In spite of protests, ‘tourathes', vines and many kiosks were removed to make way for modern traffic.