Lower Manhattan cyclists and pedestrians recently got back a piece of their streetscape: More than 10,000 square feet of Park Row, which has been closed since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has opened to bikes and walkers.
This new corridor creates a connection from Frankfort Street (at the southern end, near City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge) to Worth Street (at the northern end, at Chatham Square and the edge of Chinatown). It additionally passes by a staircase (also closed for decades, but now scheduled to reopen), which leads up to the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian deck.
For almost 20 years, this artery has been closed, to provide a security buffer for the nearby Police Headquarters building, along with other government offices, and has served as an unofficial (and free) parking lot for police vehicles and employees of adjacent court houses. The only public access has been aboard the M103 and M9 bus routes, which continued to use Park Row. But the newly redesigned roadbed contains a separate lane for bikers and pedestrians, segregated by a stone curb and painted green.
An aerial view of the new connection (still closed to vehicles, but available for walkers and bikers) between City Hall and Chatham Square.
This step follows years of demands by community leaders to reopen the street. In its District Needs statement for fiscal year 2019 (which begins on July 1 of this year), Community Board 1 (CB1) said, “ways to safely reopen Park Row are necessary to relieve severe burdens placed on nearby residents and businesses by restrictions associated with 1 Police Plaza. We are encouraged that the City has allowed Park Row to be re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists, but to the extent possible, we are interested in having Park Row re-opened and re-integrated into street grid.”
CB1’s statement continued, “we also strongly recommend that to the greatest extent possible, where safety concerns allow, areas closed after September 11, 2001 be re-opened to the public. We have worked with Friends of City Hall Park to increase public access to restricted parts of City Hall Park.”
Another possible step in this direction — currently under consideration, but on which the City has not yet decided — would be to reconfigure the Park Row exit ramp from the Brooklyn Bridge (also closed since September, 2001) as a new bike path, leading cyclists directly from the street onto the span’s pedestrian pathway, but avoiding the “pinch point” on Centre Street, behind City Hall, where the bridge’s promenade is at its narrowest and most crowded.
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