Local Advocacy Group Seeks to Make the Pedestrian King in Lower Manhattan
Above: a proposal for a “slow-street district” between Broadway and Water Street, from City Hall to the Battery, within which vehicular traffic would be subject to a ten mile-per-hour speed limit. Below: a further rollout of the plan would transform Bowling Green, where the east side of Broadway would be “pedestrianized.”.
Community Board 1 (CB1) is pushing the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to “develop a vision for a Financial District streetscape that prioritizes pedestrian mobility and safety,” three years after that agency allocated half a million dollars for a study that would have kickstarted this process, but never took any further action. In a resolution enacted at its July meeting, the Board also demanded that DOT “account for the $500,000 mobility study promised in 2019.”
This push stems from a plan developed by the Financial District Neighborhood Association (FDNA), which proposes to reclaim large swaths of Lower Manhattan’s streetscape for pedestrians under a program that would widen sidewalks, take down construction scaffolds, put trash in its place, decrease traffic, exile parking (especially by official vehicles), and create new public plazas.
The FDNA proposal, known as “Make Way for Lower Manhattan,” seeks to create new pedestrian and cycling arteries throughout the Financial District. As a first step, the Association wants to focus on creating a “slow-street district”—between Broadway and Water Street, from City Hall to the Battery—within which vehicular traffic would be subject to a ten mile-per-hour speed limit.
Throughout the slow-street zone, roadways would be configured as “shared space,” in which pedestrians and cyclists would be equal to (and more numerous than) vehicles. Experience with similar programs in the central business districts of cities around the world suggests that this could reduce the need for traffic lights, signs, bike lanes, painted crosswalks, or even sidewalks.
Inside this sector (the gateways to which would be marked by traffic-calming devices), most street parking would be removed, under the theory that fewer than 20 percent of local residents own a car, while a similar minority of local workers drive to their offices. The exception to these statistics are government employees, who can park illegally (but with impunity), because they display official placards. The FDNA scheme aims to drive these vehicles from local streets by making it physically impossible to park. This would be accomplished by removing parking spaces, with their footprints filled in by loading zones for nearby residences and businesses, wider sidewalks, and vest-pocket parks, which could include event spaces, or gardens.
Also slated for the space freed up by removing parking slots would be specially designated trash-collection points, which the plan envisions as a way to ease the chronic crowding on local sidewalks—a problem made worse by large piles of refuse clogging narrow Downtown sidewalks.
Above: a new plaza, between City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge, would be created by closing parts of Centre Street and Park Row to traffic, and building a central fountain or monument there. Below: Nassau Street would be given over largely to pedestrians.
Another part of the plan is to crack down on construction scaffolds that obscure the facades of dozens of local buildings for years at a time, often when no apparent work is being performed on those buildings.
Finally, the FDNA proposal calls for expanding or creating three new public plazas. At Bowling Green (New York’s first park, dating from more than 300 years ago), the left side of Broadway would be “pedestrianized,” in order to enlarge the open space and visually connect it to the Battery. An entirely new plaza, between City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge, would be created by closing parts of Centre Street and Park Row to traffic, and building a central fountain or monument there. And Nassau Street would be given over largely to pedestrians, as well. All three plazas would be linked by a historic pedestrian passageway, similar to Boston’s Freedom Trail.
The FDNA initially had hoped that DOT would approve the slow-streets district as a pilot program, beginning on Earth Day in April of 2019, and continuing through the following September. The group also urged the agency to begin its planned “Lower Manhattan Pedestrian Priority Street Study,” which would have been a first step toward implementing the broader proposal.
DOT has not responded to these calls, and the half-million dollar allocation that would have funded the study of the plan to pedestrianize FiDi lies unused.
Viral Outbreak in FiDi
Gutsy Guy Gambles on Gambol Along the Gambrels
A impromptu video of a man leaping from one parapet to another along a rooftop 300 feet above West Street went viral on Thursday, after filmmaker Erik Ljung looked out an office window in Brookfield Place, saw what appeared to be a daredevil tempting fate, and then began recording the event with his phone. Read more…
Borough President Proposes Turning One Lane of West Street Over to Bicycles
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine has proposed to remove the westernmost traffic lane of West Street, from Chambers to West 57th Street (and, eventually, beyond), to create a new, two-way bike lane. Read more…
Bob Pisani has spent the past 25 years on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. In this online presentation hosted by the Museum of American Finance, Bob describes how the investment world has changed and tackles the big questions: why is stock picking hard, and why is the future unknowable? Free.
Observe and sketch the human figure. Each week a model will strike short and long poses for participants to draw. An artist/educator will offer constructive suggestions and critique. Drawing materials provided. Free.
Several buildings in the South Street Seaport Historic District are considered to be some of the oldest standing structures in Manhattan. From taverns to warehouses, built by the most famous American architects of the 19th century, the buildings of the Seaport have big stories to tell. Free.
Community meditation event with icon of modern-day wellness, Dr. Deepak Chopra. The evening will include a 20-minute guided meditation, and a conversation between Dr. Chopra and Gabriella Wright, the founder of Never Alone, an initiative of the Chopra Foundation that aims to build mental health awareness and broaden access to resources around the world.
Featuring new work from Mieko Kawakami, Martín Espada, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Arthur Sze, Camonghne Felix, and more, the latest installment of the acclaimed literary journal Freeman’s explores the irrevocably intertwined lives of animals and the humans that exist alongside them. RSVP required.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
In the mid 1700s, General Casimir Pulaski fought for independence and freedom in Poland and then came to North America to fight in the American Revolutionary War. A general in the Continental Army, he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Savannah and died on this day in 1779. He is remembered with monuments, infrastructure, and parades around the United States. In New York City, every year since 1937 (this year, on October 2), the Pulaski Day Parade winds down Fifth Avenue to honor General Pulaski. The Pulaski Bridge connects Long Island City in Queens to Greenpoint in Brooklyn over Newtown Creek. In New Jersey, the Pulaski Skyway carries Route 1/9 across the Passaic and Hackensack rivers and the New Jersey Meadowlands.Painting by Jan Styka
1862 – In the Civil War, Confederate troops raid Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
1890 – The Daughters of the American Revolution is founded.
1937 – The Duke and Duchess of Windsor tour Nazi Germany for 12 days and meet Adolf Hitler.
1954 – In accord with the 1954 Geneva Conference, French troops complete their withdrawal from North Vietnam.
1968 – NASA launches Apollo 7, the first successful manned Apollo mission.
1976 – George Washington is posthumously promoted to the grade of General of the Armies.
1986 – Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Iceland to continue discussions about scaling back IRBM arsenals in Europe.
1991 – Prof. Anita Hill delivers her televised testimony concerning sexual harassment during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination
2000 – NASA launches STS-92, the 100th Space Shuttle mission.
2001 – The Polaroid Corporation files for federal bankruptcy protection.
1739 – Grigory Potemkin, Russian general and politician (d. 1791)
1844 – Henry J. Heinz, businessman, founded the H. J. Heinz Company (d. 1919)
1884 – Eleanor Roosevelt, humanitarian and politician, 39th First Lady of the United States (d. 1962)
1918 – Jerome Robbins, director, producer, and choreographer (d. 1998)
1919 – Art Blakey, drummer and bandleader (d. 1990)
1992 – Cardi B [Belcalis Almanzar], rapper
965 – Bruno the Great, Archbishop of Cologne (b. 925)
1347 – Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1282)
1667 – Mattias de’ Medici, Italian noble (b. 1613)
1779 – Casimir Pulaski, Polish-American general (b. 1745)
1809 – Meriwether Lewis, captain, explorer, and politician, 2nd Governor of Louisiana Territory (b. 1774)
1961 – Chico Marx, comedian (b. 1887)
1963 – Jean Cocteau, author, poet, and playwright (b. 1889)
1965 – Dorothea Lange, photographer and journalist (b. 1895)
1999 – James Franklin Hyde, inventor who created silica, dies at 96