Tuesday: Oppo Expected to Improvements for Chatham Square, Park Row

parkrowafter.jpgThe "Park Row Promenade" would dedicate close to 50 percent of existing asphalt to peds and cyclists.

A proposal to add pedestrian and cyclist space to a redesigned Chatham Square in Lower Manhattan will be the subject of a Tuesday public hearing co-hosted by Community Boards 1, 2 and 3.

Since streets in the area near One Police Plaza, including Park Row,
were completely or partially closed to motor vehicles after 9/11, several lawsuits have been filed by Chinatown residents and merchants, some of whom say decreased vehicle access has, among other things, worsened gridlock and lowered property values.

Now, the city plans to reconfigure Chatham Square, and convert Park Row into "a landscaped promenade for pedestrians and bicyclists" by reappropriating "nearly half" of the space once reserved for cars and trucks. Details are a little murky in the mock-up now posted online [PDF], but it looks like the mess where seven streets currently come together at the Kimlau Arch will be cleaned up considerably.

Unfortunately, the proposal — a joint project of Parks, City Planning, Design and Construction, and DOT — is likely to draw opposition from those who consider auto traffic key to Chinatown’s prosperity. As always, turnout by livable streets advocates is key.

WHAT: Public Hearing on Chatham Square Traffic Redesign

WHERE: PS 124, 40 Division St.

WHEN: Tuesday, Dec. 2, 6:00 p.m. (sign in starts at 5:30)

Before and after sketches of Chatham Square after the jump.



  • Louis

    Looks great! It should help the flow of traffic, to logically link Bowery and St. James, instead of the current Bowery and Park Plaza scheme which requires a slow maneuver at Chatham Square. This should be very useful for all involved.

  • anonymouse

    I rather like the new layout, it looks like it will be much easier to navigate for both cars and pedestrians, and will remove some tight turns for buses. And as an added bonus, it will provide a pedestrian connection along Park Row, which, even if it exists now, is very underused, because the place looks like a highway on one end and a secure facility on the other.

  • John

    Many upper class Asians come from other boros and outer areas including Connecticut, Long Island and New Jersey from their suburbia houses. They come for DimSum and shopping. And not just little gifts shopping, these folks go BJ WholeSale Club- style shopping. I mean that they buy enough food to feed their family for one or two weeks which they load up their cars with.

    Also a lot of upper class Asian folks drive their kids and elders ( grandma and grandpa ) out to Chinatown for lunch or tea. These elder folks cannot drive themselves and don’t know how to read english nor know how to take the commuter trains into the city.

  • Drew

    I commute by bicycle each day through Chatham Square– I head northeast on St. James, then cross over to Worth St to the west. My trip would be a little more confusing with the new plan, but it clearly makes more sense overall.

  • @ John

    Uh, okay?

  • k. geis

    > These elder folks cannot drive themselves and don’t know how to read
    > english nor know how to take the commuter trains into the city.

    It’s true, this sucks about suburbia; the elderly are rendered dependents much earlier than nature would have it, because while they can still walk and talk, they can’t safely drive.

    Improvements such as these render massive intersections safe for the elderly. Streets take half as long to cross under this new plan.

    If DOT keeps this up for ten more years, maybe the rich Asians of 2019 will be _living in Chinatown_, and not just chauffeuring their distinguished yet infantilized forebears.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    A lot of upper class Asian folks drive their kids and elders (grandma and grandpa) out to Chinatown for lunch or tea.

    I’m sure there are Asian families from the suburbs who make this trip but “a lot?” There isn’t even “a lot” of parking in Chinatown. There’s no place to put your car.

    If you’ve got a shop in Chinatown and you think your business is dependent on people driving in from the suburbs you’re delusional.

  • but k.geis, then you’ll be complaining about affordable housing in the city, since all these lovely livable streets will increase demand even further..

    careful what you wish for

  • k. geis

    I won’t complain about a lack of affordable housing. Frankly I wouldn’t mind less of it; I might want you priced out of my neighborhood, or living in a granny flat over the alley.

    Not all livable streets advocates are liberals…

  • Ian Turner

    So, we should keep the city crappy so as to forestall rent increases? Sounds like a recipe for misery to me.

  • i agree with you, ian…my original comment was a bit of snark..but plenty of people probably want (or think they want) nyc to revert to it sold “gritty” affordable self

  • k. geis

    I am coming to wonder why the northeast corner of Bowery and Worth isn’t extended further into its intersection, to shorten that wide trapezoid of crosswalks.

    Presumably there is a bus-maneuverability reason for the placement, because JSK’s DOT has been excellent about this specific detail in the past.

    Awaiting more detailed docs anxiously…

  • J

    I don’t quite get where the opposition comes from. There isn’t really a reduction in travel lanes; in fact there is an increase if you consider that Park Row will be reopened to traffic. Maybe there will be a small reduction in on-street parking, but opposition to that will be mostly limited to store owners who drive to work and feed the meter all day. Opposition will likely come from those opposed to any change at all; and these folks are becoming more marginalized and ignored.

    Given the hordes of pedestrians in that area, anything that tames traffic and improves the pedestrian realm ought to be welcomed by the community boards.

  • John

    Well, even though there’s not a lot parking in Chinatown(s) itself. People do park in the nearby neighborhoods and walk it. And there are parking lots that have elevators that lifts cars up.
    If you (as a driver) just have to stop for a few minutes, a friend would run it and get something. Others would just double-park or circle the blocks a few times.

    What we don’t want is suburbia invading the city. We should not let their cars nor their fu*kin mentality in.

  • alexb

    ummm, i looked at the posted drawings and the pdf file, but i don’t see the space for bike lanes. am i missing something? it would be nice to have a convenient connection between the new bike lanes on chrystie street (there should be bike lanes the entire length of the bowery too.) getting between the east side of lower manhattan and the brooklyn bridge is a pain in the ass right now on a bike.


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