Eyes on the Street: This Year’s First “Street Seats” Have Begun to Sprout

Photo: NYC DOT/Twitter
A Street Seat on Duane Street was installed this week. Photo: NYC DOT/Twitter

It’s Street Seats season — the time of year when curbside seating replaces parking to reclaim some space for people, at least for the summer.

Street Seats are installed by DOT. The seats, which fold up at night, are maintained by an adjacent sponsoring business and are open to the public. DOT received 22 applications for Street Seats this year, the most in the program’s six-year history, and approved 13 locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Some seats have already been installed, with more coming in the next few weeks, before they will be removed in November.

Photos: Charles Komanoff
Before and after on Duane Street. Photos: Charles Komanoff

One of the first Street Seats on the ground is outside Laughing Man Coffee and Tea on Duane Street in Tribeca. The project almost didn’t happen because DOT requires community board approval before installing the seats. In March, Community Board 1 members worried that more space for pedestrians would create a street safety danger. Ultimately, the plan squeaked through the local committee, 4-3, before passing the full board later in the month, according to the Tribeca Trib.

The complete list of Street Seats installed so far this year, from DOT:

  • 60, 62 and 66 Pearl Street, Manhattan
  • 144 Sullivan Street, Manhattan
  • 111 Lawrence Street, Brooklyn
  • 192 Duffield Street, Brooklyn
  • 184 Duane Street, Manhattan

The following locations will be getting street seats in the coming weeks:

  • 120 Essex Street, Manhattan
  • 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx
  • 1686 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn
  • 65 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
  • 16-20 Jefferson Street aka 173 Henry Street, Manhattan
  • 421 and 423 E. 149th Street, the Bronx
  • 410 E. 148th Street, the Bronx
  • 425 Mother Gaston Boulevard, Brooklyn
  • Vinstar

    Not a pleasant feeling to be seated so close to moving vehicle traffic, especially when a big truck or bus roars by within a couple feet of you it can give you a pretty good scare while leaving behind a cloud of black smoke in your face . In European cities they prefer to close off the whole street to traffic altogether. Vehicle access would be limited to early morning hours or with special permits, etc.

  • BBnet3000

    Not every place to sit down has to be Central Park or a totally pedestrianized area. These have been successful in previous years in New York as well as in other cities (San Francisco has the most I think).

  • c2check

    You can also treat parallel/nearby streets differntly: 42nd St could be a pedestrian-transit corridor, while 41st and 43rd are used for deliveries and services, for example.

    But yes, many streets have plenty of room to expand pedestrian space and still permit limited auto traffic.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Vinager dude – like that’s the long term plan. It’s happening incrementally sorta like boiling a frog.

  • Joe R.

    You might be making a good case for having more vehicles which aren’t noisy, and don’t emit clouds of black smoke. I personally feel ICE vehicles are totally incompatible with densely populated areas. NYC should hasten the transition to ZEVs by having a time frame where it will eventually be illegal to operate an ICE vehicle within city limits. Ironically, we did that with steam locomotives well over a century ago. It’s a pity NYC didn’t nip ICE vehicles in the bud at the turn of the 20th century before they took over the city.

  • Vinstar

    A quiet engine isn’t going to stop a careless driver or drunk driver, a texting driver etc. from running you over as you are sitting in the street. We hear almost every week in NYC about some crazy out of control car hopping the curb and killing or seriously hurting someone who is just walking on the sidewalk. If the sidewalk can’t even protect you from the cars do you think you would be safer sitting in the street?

  • Maggie

    These are fantastic. I really wish my neighborhood was getting one.

  • BBnet3000

    We need to make the city safer from automobiles, but this fear of sitting in public sounds like irrational car-phobia to me.

  • Vinstar

    Streets aren’t made for sitting on. It’s a dumb idea.

  • Bolwerk

    Don’t know much about history, eh? Or streets!

  • Vinstar

    You’re confusing American streets with European streets. Totally different. Pedestrian streets are very common in Europe, but in America are virtually nonexistent because the streets are built for cars and only for cars. Learn the difference.

  • Bolwerk

    That’s a silly argument. Even some cities not on the east coast have centuries of history before cars came along. Streets that have been mutilated for the exclusive use of cars can be, and sometimes have been, restored for use by citizens. It’s not even that expensive.

  • Vinstar

    How is that relevant to the discussion? I’m pretty sure there were no cars on American streets during the revolutionary war era but we’re talking about modern America in the 21st century not the 18th or 19th.

  • Joe R.

    If you look at things holistically, you’re probably ahead of the game taking private cars off city streets. Whatever minor time savings or economic activity they may generate, they cost cities many times that in externalities, plus lost opportunity costs.

  • Bolwerk

    The streets that exist today often already existed then. That they had to be modified to accommodate automobiles would strongly suggest that the reverse is also possible.

    For that matter, I don’t see any inherent reason that streets that were originally designed for cars could not be modified for other uses.

  • Bolwerk

    I don’t see what we don’t encourage artisans and merchants to use streets way more. The space the city practically gives away to some fat suburbanite in a Hummer could be generating tax revenue.

    You can bet all the fiscal discipline preachers hate that idea too. Dumb fucks.

  • Troy Torrison

    It’s worth noting that in this specific case, Duane Street in Tribeca, the street is mostly free of traffic and the area would no doubt benefit from more ‘road diet’ plans for it in the future. Not every city street in New York, or Chicago or wherever in the U.S. is a good place for reclaiming spaces, but there are thousands spaces used for heavily subsidized car storage that could be put to much better use.

  • Tribeca Trust

    This is obviously a success in terms of users enjoying this new kind of amenity on a historic block. And hey, Streetsblog, you should have given a shout-out to us at Tribeca Trust for being the ones behind this particular one.

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