This area, bounded by Broadway on the west, Beaver Street on the south, William Street on the east, and Pine Street on the north, is home to several thousand residents, and is the destination to which tens of thousands of people report for work each day. It is also visited by more than one million tourists each year. And yet, security precautions for the Stock Exchange (which is presumed to be a potently symbolic target for terrorists planning future attacks on New York) have rendered the surrounding streetscape desolate and uninviting.
Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance, stands in front of historic 23 Wall Street, surrounded by community leaders, to announce a new plan for beautifying the streetscape within the New York Stock Exchange security perimeter.
This was the problem that the Alliance proposed to solve when it convened a working group of more than 30 residents, community leaders, property owners, and business stakeholders nine months ago. The resulting plan, titled, “A More Welcoming Wall & Broad: A Vision for Improving the Stock Exchange District,” envisions transforming the area through a series of innovations, such the creating of curbless “shared” streets, surfaced with historical contextual paving materials. The plan also seeks to create a distinct sense of place by erecting “gateway” structures at entrances to the zone. These interactive sculptural installations would serve purposes both aesthetic and informative, displaying text to give visitors way-finding directions and historical background.
The built environment would undergo a visual transformation with the installation of new lighting. Beacons hung from cables or cantilevered off the sides of buildings would brighten now-dim alleys such as Exchange and New Streets. Additionally, the plan calls for architectural lighting to illuminate the nine historical landmarks within the perimeter — four of which frame the corners at the intersection of Wall and Broad Street.
The Alliance’s vision also calls for upgrading current features of the area widely regarded as eyesores, such as the “tattered tent” at the Broad Street entrance of the New York Stock Exchange, where security screenings are conducted. The plan calls for replacing this with a permanent, glass enclosure.
The Alliance recommends moving the famous “Charging Bull” sculpture from its current location, near Bowling Green, to the front of 23 Wall Street.
Elsewhere, the Alliance proposes installing throughout the district stone street furniture, which would act as bollards and security barriers, but also double as benches and planters.
Several elements of the scheme would have in common that, for the first time, they acknowledge as permanent (and thus attempt to bring a coherent design vision to) improvised security measures that were hastily implemented in the fall of 2001, but were always described in the years since (in a tortured official euphemism) as “temporary.”
Both Broad Street (shown here) and Wall Street would become curbless pedestrian plazas, adored with street furniture that would also serve as security barriers.
The Alliance plan also contains logistical improvements, such as calling for a consolidated delivery center for all packages arriving in the area, which would consist of a centralized drop-off point for delivery trucks, from which parcels could be distributed using hand trucks or small vehicles.
“This report lays out a roadmap,” said Alliance president Jessica Lappin. “It is a grand- yet-achievable vision that could turn the Stock Exchange District into the jewel it should be.”
Community Board 1 (CB1) chair Anthony Notaro observed that the area is, “the historic center New York yet a vibrant community that blends commercial and residential needs and where people from all over the world come to visit. It deserves our attention and we have great expectations.”
Roger Byrom, co-chair of CB1’s Landmarks Committee, noted that, “over the last 15 years, Wall and Broad has undergone incremental changes of varying success, but the time has come for a master plan that can reimagine the area.”
The Alliance estimates that the plan would cost approximately $30 million to implement, which it hopes to raise through a combination of public and private funds. Because the process of building support for this project has just begun, the organization does not yet have a timeline for its completion, but notes that the proposal is designed to be implemented in phases, over the course of several years.