SUNNYSIDE — A new public plaza has turned the space beneath the elevated 7 train tracks at the 46th Street station into an oasis of calm with tables, chairs and greenery.
Bliss Plaza is one of two public areas planned by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District, which applied to the Department of Transportation's NYC Plaza Program to have the sites made over into seating areas for the community.
"There are so few public spaces in Sunnyside," said Rachel Thieme, director of Sunnyside Shines. "There was so much potential here — it was already closed to traffic, you didn't have to take away any parking spaces, it's right in the center of town."
Workers recently leveled the ground beneath the 46th Street station by filling the roadbed with concrete, then added 12 removable tables and 24 chairs, as well as greenery-filled planters which Thieme says help buffer the space from the traffic on Queens Boulevard.
"It's beautiful," said Fiordaliza Rivera, a longtime Sunnyside resident who was sitting at one of the tables with her husband during the plaza's opening Tuesday afternoon.
"It's great," said her husband, Joseph Rivera. "I always told my wife they should have something here."
Another plaza is set to open under the 40th Street station, which is currently home to a public art installation that's set to come down in the fall. Construction of the public seating area — to be called Lowery Plaza — will begin after that and will include a similar setup to the one at 46th Street, according to Thieme.
"We're just trying, by making these simple little fixes, we're trying to really just transform this into a space for people," she said.
Both spaces will be maintained by the BID, which will have workers cleaning the areas and setting up the tables and chairs each morning. The Neighborhood Plaza Partnership will be responsible for taking care of the horticulture work, including watering the plants and changing them out each season.
Thieme said they also plan to host events and cultural programming in the spaces, similar to musical performances that were previously held at the stations for Make Music New York.
Bliss Plaza will be open to the public daily from 9 a.m. to dusk.