NYC: Manhattan's Pedestrian-Friendly Feat
Manhattan’s famed Flatiron District has turned a hard-to-walk neighborhood into a pedestrian’s dream. A recent community survey by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership revealed a 91.2% approval rating for NYC's '08 initiative, the org's prez Jennifer Brown tells us. Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Madison Square Park converge here at 23rd Street, a primary east-west thoroughfare, and pedestrians were having a heck of a time. So the City reorganized traffic patterns to encourage cars to use other avenues and to create 30k SF of public space, which Jennifer's org manages.
Traffic on the neighboring avenues didn’t turn apocalyptic (despite Mayan predictions); six years later pedestrians can zip through, tourists are no longer standing in traffic to take photos, and residents and local employees flood the plazas. It’s working for real estate, too. On the west side of the northern plaza, 200 Fifth Ave was vacant (Chetrit Group had just flipped it to L&L Holding Co) when the plazas took shape in ’08. Now the office workers in the 100%-occupied building view the plaza as their front yard, while Mario Batali’s Eataly at street level has become one of NYC’s biggest draws. Jennifer also tells us Lego is opening a store there next month.