Thursday, February 26, 2009

NYC to Close Broadway thru Times Square

Linky (NYT).

Last summer, the city narrowed Broadway from 42nd Street to 35th Street by setting aside two lanes on the east side of the street for a bike lane and promenade with tables, chairs and planters.

That project, called Broadway Boulevard, met with some skepticism at first but quickly became a popular lunch spot for office workers and tourists. Under the new plan, officials are considering creating a similar promenade from 47th Street north to the vicinity of Columbus Circle.

Sort of what always happens when quality of life decisions are made, right? People are skeptical and resistant to change at first, and then in practice it becomes popular. See: Stroget, Copenhagen. People said the businesses would die. In fact, they thrived.

BUT (big but), the city has to be primed for such measures. i.e. the density and form to accommodate density has to be in place. Ped malls in the states failed in the 60s (the same time Stroget was going car-free) because people were moving OUT of cities. We need to get people back INTO cities by "de-car-ing" [sic] the city.

Lesson 2: Paris, Champs Elysees
A 1994 restoration helped the boulevard regain some of its charm as a promenade. New street furniture was added, cars were diverted to side roads, the sidewalks were widened and improved, bollards were installed, parking problems were appeased by an underground garage, and the street's general appearance was improved with granite paving and double rows of trees.
What this quote doesn't mention, is that lanes were removed in order to accomplish the above. The ground floor businesses had all died, prompting such drastic action. It is now some of the most, if not THE most, valuable real estate in the world.

I predict this area of Manhattan to become similarly treasured. A whopping 9.5 babies to Bloomberg and Manhattan.