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Astor Place Moves Closer to Becoming a Great Public Space

astor_plaza.gif
A rendering of "Village Plaza" -- a pedestrian space that may supplant the asphalt-covered area south of Astor Place.

Remember the Alamo? That's the public sculpture (AKA "The Cube") located on a pedestrian island in the middle of Manhattan's Astor Place. It's a decent landmark for meeting up with a friend, but it always looks forlorn out there with lanes of traffic moving by on every side, a constant reminder that huge swaths of Astor Place and its environs can be reclaimed from vehicles and put to better use.

Astor Place was one of the first spots identified by the New York City Streets Renaissance as a potential Public Space Transformation
project. Now that transformation seems within reach, as a plan to reshape the area into a pedestrian haven moves closer to fruition. If implemented, the changes could remake Astor
Place into a space that binds together the East Village and the NYU
district with pedestrian amenities rather than dividing them with traffic.

The Villager's Gabriel Zucker has the details:

astor_sidewalk_plan.gifThe renovation includes a realignment of Cooper Square from Sixth St.to Astor Place, with the street being thinned and made one-waynorthbound. The thinner avenue will provide new space alongside PeterCooper Park, and will create a two-block-long plaza space almost thesame size alongside the Bowery, extending down to E. Fourth St.

Inaddition, Astor Place will be closed to cars between Fourth Ave. andLafayette St. where it passes “The Alamo” cube sculpture. On theopposite side of Fourth Ave., Astor Place will also be realigned withEighth St., creating even more pedestrian space. The traffic island forthe northbound No. 6 train will be doubled in size.

Aspart of the capital project, the city Department of Transportation willalso be installing medians along Third Ave. to facilitate pedestriancrossings on the blocks between Fourth and Ninth Sts.

Zucker reports that construction may begin this winter, pending public input and review by the Art Commission.

Now, if only the owners of the ultra-luxe "Sculpture for Living" would find a ground floor tenant who engages the sidewalk, instead of another Chase branch.

Images: NYCDOT / The Villager

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