Pedestrian-Only Fifth Avenue: Tonight, a Three Hour Test

Tonight is the Museum Mile Festival. From 6:00 to 9:00 pm, twenty-three blocks of Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Streets will be closed to traffic for the event billed as "New York’s Biggest Block Party." Admission to the museums is free and there are all kinds of events, workshops and street performances.

Project for Public Spaces got this festival started back in 1978 along with the nine museums that line New York City’s "Museum Mile." The main goal was to spur the development of new museum audiences and increase support for the arts during the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s. But the festival also shows how great an asset New York City’s streets can be when they are not used soley for the movement and storage of motor vehicles. 

In Tokyo, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue is called Ginza. The entire Ginza is closed to cars not just once a year, but every weekend, all weekend long. I was in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago and took this picture:

Ginza_Tokyo_Japan_ek_PPS

It is easy to imagine New York City doing the same thing on Fifth Avenue or sections of Broadway on weekends. If you make it to this evening’s festival, you will get a sense of how great this could be.

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