City plans to permanently transform 5th Avenue into a pedestrian paradise

Building on the success of last year's holiday car bans that created pedestrian streets in Midtown, the city is joining forces with key partners to make this vision a reality.

Edric Robinson

Oct 30, 2023, 2:34 PM

Updated 202 days ago

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Mayor Eric Adams is pushing forward with plans to reimagine and permanently transform iconic Fifth Avenue into a pedestrian-friendly haven.
Building on the success of last year's holiday car bans that created pedestrian streets in Midtown, the city is joining forces with key partners to make this vision a reality.
"When you create really vibrant public spaces, people vote with their feet right away," said Ya-ting Liu, chief public realm officer. 
Liu is one of driving forces behind this initiative, as the city's first-ever Public Realm Officer. Since her appointment in February, she is responsible for implementing more public pedestrian spaces across the boroughs. Which she says works for everyone in the city, especially given the success of the holiday pedestrian-only streets initiative last year. 
"Just those three weekend holiday closures alone, we saw an increase in $3 million total in sales," said Liu.
Liu said the study conducted by Mastercard and the city's Office of Technology and Innovation is encouraging. Mayor Eric Adams and his administration are eager to reshape the commercial Fifth Avenue corridor from Bryant Park to Central Park into a permanent pedestrian fixture. Liu says they intend to collaborate closely with the business community to achieve this goal.
"The 5th Avenue Association, Grand Central Partnership, Bryan Park Corporation and Central Park Corporation - we have all the major institutions, retailers, employers and landlords working together to see what can we do to improve this streetscape,” said Liu.
“Imagine wider sidewalks possibly, more trees, tree-lined streets possibly, and nook and crannies for gathering and seating - just a more cohesive design," Liu added. 
Reactions from New Yorkers News 12 spoke with were generally favorable.
"The more we can create New York to be a walkable city, the better for all of us," said  Manhattan resident Jennie Mayfield. 
“Maybe not permanent, maybe just when the weather is nicer because i have to get to work,” said Whitney Davidson-Rhodes, a Bronx resident. 
Even some drivers seem to be onboard.
“I feel like everytime we walk in the city, you almost get hit by a car, it’s a cars world in this area so why not,” said Abigail Rivera, a Staten Island resident.
However, not everyone is thrilled about the idea.
“It’s a terrible move. It takes you so long to get from east to west,” said Clarence Tucker, a 25-year driver of busses. 
When asked about potential parking issues and congestion, Ya-ting Liu emphasized the importance of balance. 
"Whether you're on foot, on a bike, in a car, or on a bus, we really try to make sure we're centering that project to ensure all New Yorkers have access," said Liu. 
The team is expected to unveil a schematic design of what the Fifth Avenue corridor will look like by early 2025.


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