A proposal to “reimagine” stretches of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue between Bryant Park and Central Park could mean fewer cars and more space for pedestrians and cyclists along the busy commercial corridor.
Mayor Eric Adams announced what he referred to as a “major new visioning process” on Sunday with the goal of making Fifth Avenue safer to the public. Adams said he would be assembling a coalition of government officials and community leaders across Midtown Manhattan to make Fifth Avenue “more appealing to residents, workers and visitors with world-class public space.”
“Fifth Avenue is an iconic corridor and an engine of our Midtown economy. But it is also an unmissable opportunity to show the city and the country how world-class public space can help create vibrant central business districts,” Adams said in a statement. “New York isn’t coming back, New York is back. But New Yorkers don’t sit on our hands — we will continue to bring everyone to the table, come up with innovative ideas together, and make our city safer, fairer, and more prosperous.”
Adams said the process would draw from what has largely been deemed a successful Open Streets holiday season that opened Fifth Avenue to pedestrians. The announcement also came after the “New New York: Making New York Work for Everyone” action plan Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul rolled out last week, which aims to turn New York’s business districts into “vibrant 24/7 destinations as a critical goal for the city’s economic recovery, with public realm improvements being one key initiative.”
The mayor said the Fifth Avenue plan would include “early action improvements” in 2023 along with a construction plan to be finished in two years. He outlined the plan’s key goals as:
- Transforming Fifth Avenue in Midtown between Bryant Park and Central Park into an “innovative pedestrian-focused space for the public to enjoy, with public realm improvements like expanded green space, new tree plantings, and enhanced lighting.”
- Prioritizing sustainable modes of transportation and mass transit, including speeding up bus travel.
- Increasing pedestrian space.
- Improving street safety, including for cycling.
The plan received an immediate endorsement from traffic safety advocates Transportation Alternatives, which fights for more pedestrian-friendly public spaces in New York City.
“[Yes] yes yes,” the group tweeted Sunday. “[It’s] time to give people more space on fifth avenue let’s get it done!”
Adams said the city Economic Development Corporation along with the Department of Transportation will contract with a design firm to begin the process in 2023. Community leaders will also meet as part of a vision plan steering group, the mayor said.
“Seeing the packed crowds move through the holiday Open Street along Fifth Avenue gives us a glimpse into the future of how we can reimagine Midtown Manhattan,” said EDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “Coming off the heels of the ‘New New York’ action plan, this type of bold thinking and unique public-private partnership will make Fifth Avenue a more vibrant destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.”