Public space is an essential element for the sustainability, vitality and sanity of a dense urban environment like New York City. In recent years, NYC’s urban planners and transportation engineers have made efforts to give back to people the spaces that were previously controlled by cars or abandoned industrial sites. Some of the most interesting new public spaces, in my assessment, are:
Times Square Pedestrian Plaza – this plaza, traced out right in the middle of busy traffic lanes, was originally a temporary experiment in 2009. The sudden appearance of hundreds of plastic lawn chairs garnered much media attention that summer. The plaza has been a great success since then – pedestrian and motorist accidents are way down, retail activity in the area is up, and traffic is flowing better than ever. In late 2011, the NYC DOT released plans to make the plaza permanent.
East River Park Esplanade – in July 2011, the first two-block section of a new linear park for the Lower East Side opened. When completed in 2013, this $165 million greenway will stretch along two miles of neglected industrial waterfront from the lower tip of Manhattan to just north of the Manhattan Bridge. The contemporary Esplanade features native plants, diverse seating options, a unique dog run, and sweeping views of the East River.
Gansevoort Plaza – like the Times Square plaza, this pedestrian space in the Meatpacking District was carved out of an intersection that was a dangerous, vehicular free-for-all. The plaza is a point of contention for local residents – many are pleased with the increased pedestrian and traffic safety it provides, while others complain that it inhibits the flow of taxis and limos in this area well-known for its glamorous nightclub scene. Still others support the project, but specifically object to the look of the bollards surrounding the square, which bear resemblance to nipples. Nevertheless, the plaza was made permanent in 2010.
What do you think are some of the best sustainable public spaces being created?
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