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Thread: 'Secret' Midtown Pedestrian Passageways to Get More Exposure Under New Plan

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default 'Secret' Midtown Pedestrian Passageways to Get More Exposure Under New Plan

    I hope this comes to fruition.


    'Secret' Midtown Pedestrian Passageways to Get More Exposure Under New Plan

    A group wants to make residents more aware of the public spaces that run between West 51st and West 57th streets.

    By Jill Colvin













    MIDTOWN — It’s a secret kept by in-the-know Midtown office workers: A stretch of public corridors hidden between Sixth and Seventh avenues that run all the way from West 51st street to West 57th.

    The plazas and interior walkways, which form a contiguous six-block pathway, are owned by private buildings but open to the public, allowing pedestrians to travel north and south without having to travel all the way to the major avenues on either end of the blocks.

    But because some of the spaces are tucked behind closed doors and others are frequently blocked by parked trucks, many locals have no idea the spaces exist.

    "I’m a life-long New Yorker and I had no idea you could walk mid-block from 51st to 57th," said Tom Miller, Transportation Chair of Midtown's Community Board 5, which is home to more privately owned public spaces than any other district.


    A map of the public plaza corridor running through Midtown.

    But Brian Nesin, the founder of "Friends of Privately Owned Public Spaces" is hoping to change that.

    Nesin, 41, is lobbying to give the spaces more recognition with a new name — the "Holly Whyte Way" — and wants to add new signs to make them more visible. He's also pushing the Department of Transportation to make it easier for pedestrians to safely cross the street between the blocks, floating ideas such as adding new traffic lights, stop signs or speed bumps mid-block.

    Similar mid-block crossings already operate on high-pedestrian streets including West 42nd and West 34th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

    “When you come out of one, you don’t even know there’s a connection on the other side because there’s a truck parked there," said Nesin, who appeared before CB5's transportation committee Monday night to ask them to support a request he submitted to the DOT earlier this month to study his suggested changes.

    He argued his plan would boost pedestrian life as well as help mid-block businesses sandwiched between Sixth and Seventh avenues — the longest Midtown block.

    "It doesn’t really function as a single entity. … [This is an] opportunity to connect them," he said.

    Committee members agreed that the plan was worth studying.
    "It’s a win-win all around," said board member and local resident Daly Reville.

    The DOT did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether they will consider the plan.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/20110427/midt...#ixzz1KjLIzkho

  2. #2

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    I work in the middle of this, and have used them. Some are more inviting than others. Some are a decent place to eat outside if you want to. However, I don't think too many people would miss them if they weren't there.

  3. #3

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    I checked these out on my way back from Carnegie 57 last week. Some are merely through-block hallways, but others are pretty nice. Too bad it ends abruptly at 51st street.

  4. #4

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    Actually, no. If you go around to 50th, it goes two more blocks down to 48th.

  5. #5

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    yes but having to go back to the avenue for a block defeats the purpose

  6. #6

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    I think the building's in the way were built before the (whoever "they" might be) decided to add this feature.

  7. #7
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The mid-block pedestrian pass-thru and/or plaza came into being in the 1960's. Under the NYC Zoning resolution developers are granted a FAR Bonus for these public amenities; the FAR Bonus allowance is greater for a covered mid-block passageway than for an open air mid-block plaza (the legal types decided that a space which protected the public from the vagaries of the weather were more beneficial to the public interest than open green spaces).

  8. #8

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    Took the path again today and discovered that the secret is to take the escalator down in the pass-thru between 52nd and 51st street. This takes you to a passage that links up with the Rockfeller Center concourse, and you can walk all the way to the south side of 47th street before re-emerging.

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    These spaces & passageways are a complete waste of NYC real-estate. They exist as a concession from building developers to build more square footage in exchange for these "public spaces" which are usually too small to be anything meaningful and are completely useless in practice.

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Maybe for you. I use them quite a bit to avoid the Avenues when possible. Plus that's the whole idea of a bonus exchange. They get to glop that extra space up in the air.

  11. #11
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    It's nice to have a pass-thru along an 800 foot long block front, especially when you're just going around the corner or trying to avoid crowds on the Avenues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GordonGecko View Post
    These spaces & passageways are a complete waste of NYC real-estate. They exist as a concession from building developers to build more square footage in exchange for these "public spaces" which are usually too small to be anything meaningful and are completely useless in practice.
    Small is not the problem. They just need to add some tables, chairs, and a water feature, and the "small" space can become a very attractive public space. Like..




  13. #13
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    ^ First photo above is one of my favorite features of NYC.

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    That photo is old. They've redone it since then. That framed pass through glazing has been replaced with solid, frameless glass.

    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    ^ First photo above is one of my favorite features of NYC.

  15. #15
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    And all the trees have been completely ripped out. It's now a cold & barren space with some tables and chairs, and a few planter boxes hanging from the wall. The southern side, through the waterfall, is particularly bleak, turned from garden into a parking lot for bicycles.

    Re-designed by a dim-wit.

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