In ancient towns and cities of Bible lands it appears that most streets were unpaved. (Ps. 18:42; Isa. 10:6; Lam. 2:21) Channels for water drainage from the streets have been discovered in Jericho and Gezer.
Generally, streets were narrow and winding. But there were also “broad ways.” (Luke 14:21; compare Revelation 21:21.) Nineveh’s streets were wide enough to accommodate chariots. (Nah. 2:4) Babylon and Damascus had broad avenues or processional ways, and some streets bore names. During the Roman period, “the street called Straight” in Damascus was a three-lane thoroughfare about 100 feet (c. 30.5 meters) wide.—Acts 9:11; see STRAIGHT (Street).
An open area, the public square, likely near a city gate, might serve as a place to transact business or meet for instruction. (Gen. 23:10-18; Neh. 8:1-3; Jer. 5:1) There children played (Zech. 8:4, 5); the streets in general were usually filled with sounds of activity. (Job 18:17; Jer. 33:10, 11; contrast Isaiah 15:3; 24:11.) They were places of commercial enterprise, shops of a certain kind sometimes being grouped together, as on the “street of the bakers” in Jerusalem. (Jer. 37:21) King Ahab’s ‘assigning streets to himself in Damascus’ may have meant his having markets there. (1 Ki. 20:34) At night the streets of some cities apparently were under the vigilant eyes of watchmen.—Song of Sol. 3:1-3.
The streets also were places where news was announced. (2 Sam. 1:20; Jer. 11:6) There Jesus Christ taught and cured the ailing, though not wrangling and crying aloud in the broadways, trying to cause a public sensation to magnify his own name and draw attention away from Jehovah God and the Kingdom good news. (Luke 8:1; Matt. 12:13-19; Isa. 42:1, 2) Jesus, therefore, was not like the hypocrites whom he condemned for praying “on the corners of the broad ways to be visible to men.”—Matt. 6:5.