New York’s “plazafication” is here to stay

The first pedestrian plaza opened 10 years ago in Corona, Queens

New York Weekend Edition /
Jul.July 14, 2018 04:52 PM

From left: Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio. (Credit: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kevin Case, Eric Fischer)

The pedestrian plaza concept weathered the changing of the guard from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and it now seems poised to stick around for the long haul.

When the first plaza opened a decade ago, it was seen as a risky as it was premised on shutting down entire or parts of roads that were often the busiest arteries in a given neighborhood, as the New York Times reports.

But the ease of having a quick place to talk on the phone, eat lunch or just loiter in the sun has quickly added up to an expected convenience for many residents and office workers in the areas where a plaza has popped up–and that’s even despite the city’s $1.4 million annual maintenance bill. There are now 74 pedestrian plazas throughout the city which together add up to about 30 acres worth of space that was concerted from streets into public space.

“[The Department of Transportation] broke some eggs when they created this program, and now we’re all making the omelet,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, told the Times. In each neighborhood that now has a plaza, programming the space has become the next wave of challenges for the city and other organizations in charge of activating the space.

Other cities such as Mexico City and Addis Ababa are also picking up the Big Apple’s lead and creating plazas of their own. [NYT]Erin Hudson


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