DOT Plans to Create Avenue of Public Plazas in Midtown

By Mathew Katz on March 26, 2012 2:26pm 

The plazas allow pedestrians to travel all the way from West 51st street to West 57th.
The plazas allow pedestrians to travel all the way from West 51st street to West 57th.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

MIDTOWN — It's an alley you'd want to hang out in.

The Department of Transportation has put together a plan to connect a series of little-known public plazas in Midtown, making it easier for tourists, workers, and other visitors to navigate through one of Manhattan's busiest neighborhoods.

The plan would create mid-block crosswalks between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, connecting a string of plazas from West 51st to West 57th Street. Department of Transportation officials are expected to formally present their plan to Community Board 5 on Monday night, according to the New York Observer,

The assortment of plazas are, much like Zuccotti Park, privately-owned but must be open to the public under an agreement with the city.

The goal is to increase usage of the plazas that have been around for decades, but look to outsiders more like private lobbies.

"People are always cutting through these spaces and crossing the street at these locations, but right now you have to squeeze between parked trucks and past cars," said Brian Nesin, founder of the Friends of Privately Owned Public Space, which first pitched the plan to the DOT and Community Board 5 in May 2011.

The plan would give pedestrians an easier time crossing between the plazas — including curb cuts that would allow the disabled to cross mid-block.

It was not immediately clear if the plan would use stop signs, stop lights or some combination of both to control traffic.

The DOT built a mid-block crossing on West 57th Street in the fall, with a largely positive response.

"Right now, a lot of these plazas are invisible," said Nesin. "Really, they're owned by the public, and they should know where the are, the hours — so the public can make sure they get what they paid for."

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