Watch New Yorkers Using the 33rd Street Plaza With Streetfilms

Catch it while you can. Before the temporary plaza on 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue closes on October 3, Clarence Eckerson Jr. of Streetfilms stopped by to grab video of New Yorkers enjoying some breathing room in one of Midtown’s most crowded corners.

The plaza was installed in July, along with a temporary sidewalk extension on 32nd Street between Herald Square and Penn Station. The pedestrian spaces could return permanently after the trial period ends next month.

The plaza has proven immensely popular, getting rave reviews at a recent Community Board 5 meeting. The sidewalk extension, however, has come under attack — both from a tabloid columnist who thinks homelessness can be fixed with car traffic, and from 32nd Street neighbors who want more curbside loading zones.

The projects, supported by DOT and CB 5, were conceived and sponsored by real estate giant Vornado, which owns major properties near Penn Station, including Penn Plaza, the Manhattan Mall, and the Hotel Pennsylvania.

Before the public space is removed and given back to cars in less than three weeks, the 34th Street Partnership is hosting a workshop tomorrow evening to gather feedback on what people think of the plaza. It’s scheduled for tomorrow at 6 p.m. RSVP is required.

  • com63

    but…but…but, the nypost said there were only homeless people using these plazas. I’m so confused…. 😉

  • AnoNYC

    The city could use so many more pedestrianized spaces. Glad to see such popularity at this location. These plazas seem to be hits wherever installed, more evidence of needed changes.

  • Like I have said, the friendly scenes in this video to Cuzzo are like garlic to a vampire. (And I’ll note I was only there eating lunch for about 20-25 minutes and shot this montage. In that time I saw two people I might qualify as homeless passing thru, but they may not have been I wouldn’t ask of course.)

  • Blocking all the seating at 10pm is unacceptable

  • cjstephens

    Cuozzo wasn’t talking about this plaza. He was talking about the one on 32nd Street, which is the exact opposite of what is shown in this film: garbage, traffic, and benches dominated by junkies and the mentally ill. Cuozzo wasn’t making that part up. This film shows that taking back streets from traffic can work. A similar film of 32nd Street would show that taking back streets from traffic can also be a negative thing.

  • Maggie

    I walked the 32nd street plaza twice today. In addition to hundreds of people comfortably strolling a previously dismal street, separated by flowered landscaped concrete planters from minimal motor traffic, I saw nurses, construction workers on break, a few tourists, and office workers in suits enjoying the benches.

    I didn’t see one uniformed police officer, but I did see an open-air drug deal at the Seventh Ave end. So I agree with you cjstephens: NYPD has some stepping up to do! I also saw a couple patches of vomit (gross, I agree). Plaza maintenance workers were hosing those down by my second pass along the block. In terms of commercial real estate, it’s clear to me how the previously jammed, narrow sidewalks have been suppressing tenant interest and property value. I get why Vornado wants this to be more walkable and inviting. (Why is the concept even controversial?)

    The biggest nuisance and danger, I thought, was the handful of motorists making left turns off Seventh onto 32nd and off 32nd onto Sixth. You’ve got two or three drivers inching their way into crosswalks filled with dozens of pedestrians. Very dangerous.

  • Toracno

    Although Cuozzo totally lambasted 32nd street in that rant, he talks in general about plazas being bad and tends to lump them together.

  • cjstephens

    I understand that Vornado wants to spruce things up, and what they’re doing on 33rd Street makes a lot of sense, but I’m baffled that anyone thought that block of 32nd Street would make an attractive plaza. Only part of it ever gets any sun, and distance between the two tall buildings makes it feel like you’re at the bottom of a dark canyon. Also, while I get that pedestrians need to be protected, all I could think of when I saw that they had taken out the parking lane was that all of the stores and restaurants on that block will have a terrible time getting deliveries now. Unlike a big department store, these small, independent establishments get lots of small deliveries throughout the day. Like it or not, those deliveries come on trucks, which have to park somewhere when they drop off goods, and this plaza just cut those spots in half, meaning that delivery trucks are either going to double park, causing gridlock, or they are going to spend more and more time circling the block waiting for legal parking to open up. Not all vehicles in midtown are single-occupancy private cars we like to demonize here on Streetsblog. The mom-and-pop coffee shop needs someone to deliver their supplies. This plaza really does make life more difficult for them.

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