Eyes on the Street: The Return of “Plaza 33” — Maybe for Good

Here's what happens when you close a street to car traffic in one of the busiest parts of the city. Photo: David Meyer
Here’s what happens when you make a street car-free in one of the busiest parts of the city. Photo: David Meyer

“Plaza 33” is back, transforming the eastern half of 33rd Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue into a car-free public space — and it’s set to remain indefinitely.

This is the second iteration of “Plaza 33,” which was installed from July through October last year and is funded and managed by Vornado Realty Trust. Next to Penn Station, the space gets some of the most intense foot traffic in Midtown and was filled with people yesterday evening.

Some parts of "Plaza 33" remain under construction. Photo: David Meyer
Some parts of “Plaza 33” remain under construction. Photo: David Meyer

Plaza 33 launched sans furniture on Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon Vornado installed tables and chairs. A few fenced-in wooden bleachers remain under construction but are set to be finished in the next two or three weeks.

The long-term future of the space is open-ended. There are no plans to remove it, nor is there a definite commitment to keep it, a Vornado spokesperson confirmed this week.

When this year’s plan was presented to Manhattan Community Board 5 in February, Vornado Senior VP for Development Marc Ricks said DOT would determine whether the plaza would be permanent after observing its impact over time. DOT has not responded to an inquiry from Streetsblog about when and how that decision will be made.

  • Vooch

    Fifth Avenue from 60th to 33rd should be 2 bus only lanes (22′) with remainder of current roadway (about 48′) reallocated to 1) expanding sidewalks by 20′ each side. 2) 8′ PBL

  • Samuel Santaella

    and congestion pricing.

  • Vooch

    we actually do not need congestion pricing. There are plenty of easy alternatives not dependent on Albany –

    narrowing Bridge approaches to 1 or 2 nine foot motor lanes

    charge same price for curbside parking as parking garages charge

    traffic enforcement cameras that send notice of speeding to insurance company

    close street in fron of every school to motor vehicles

    and extreme traffic calming measures

  • AnoNYC

    I always thought that Lexington Ave should be pedestrianized or at least converted into a bus only route throughout. The subway is underneath.

  • AnoNYC

    Keep it!

    I hope it stays. Gonna check it out this year, missed out last time around.

  • Are they still hiring 3 guards to ensure no one sits after 10pm?

  • Vooch

    yeah make Lex from 125th to Union Square with2 motor lanes (buses and FHV only), 1 PBL, 1 motor loading lane, expand sidewalks

    Return Park Avenue to its former beauty by reallocating 1 of its 3 lanes to a PBL in each durectiin, and chabge motor parking lanes to short term loading zones.

  • Samuel Santaella

    I’d still go for congestion pricing, as that would help fund transit improvements and/or expansion. #MoveNY

    I do like a lot of your suggestions. Especially the pricing for curbside parking. Just keep in mind, it’s very hard for buses (8.5 feet wide) to use a 9 foot lane.

  • Vooch

    oops – dedicated bus lanes 11′ wide 24/7 exclusive use for buses

    I kinda like London’s revised congestion pricing – pre-2005 private cars ( heavy polluters ) pay 2x, pre 1998? private cars ( extreme polluters ) pay around 10x; heavy polluting trucks pay up to €250 to enter central London.

    love it


Eyes on the Street: The New East Houston Street

The long-delayed reconstruction of East Houston Street between the Bowery and the FDR Drive is starting to round into form. Though the Department of Design and Construction won’t wrap up the project until next year at the earliest, new medians and pedestrian areas between Avenue A and Chrystie Street are finally complete, and the transition to the First Avenue bike lane is […]

Rodriguez Wants DOT to Remedy NYC’s Most Cramped Sidewalks

City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wants DOT to address overcrowding on some of the city’s most cramped sidewalks. A bill introduced this week would require DOT to identify 10 locations with the heaviest pedestrian traffic volumes and “develop strategies for improving safety and traffic flow at such locations.” “In this city, most New Yorkers rely on public transportation […]

33rd Street at Penn Station Will Go Car-Free This Summer

Real estate giant Vornado Realty Trust last night unveiled plans to open up space for people on a couple of busy blocks near Penn Station. The proposed car-free zones include a new pedestrian plaza on 33rd Street west of Seventh Avenue. Phase one will consist of a three-month trial this summer and fall, and the changes could be made permanent […]