IN THEIR OWN WORDS: 34th Ave. Residents Describe Joy, Safety of Open Street

Everyone except for true Grinches loves the 34th Avenue open street. Photos: Clarence Eckerson
Everyone except for true Grinches loves the 34th Avenue open street. Photos: Clarence Eckerson

This is the fifth installment in our ongoing series of opinion pieces in favor of converting 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights and Corona into a linear park, which is the subject of a new petition drive that seeks a logical final conclusion to what the Department of Transportation calls “the gold standard” of open streets. Earlier this week, we published support from Assembly Member Jessica González-Rojas, Borough President Donovan Richards, urban planner Donovan Finn and City Council candidate Shekar Krishnan, and Council Member Danny Dromm. The following video from Streetfilms allows daily users of the street to have their say.

Kids can be kids. Friends can meet friends. And neighbors can feel like they live in a neighborhood again.

That’s the unmistakable takeaway from Streetfilms’ latest effort to share with New Yorkers — and, more important, Mayor de Blasio and his Department of Transportation — the simple joy of having the city’s best open street in your neighborhood.

In this case, Jackson Heights and Corona’s 34th Avenue, which was transformed last year from a car-choked (and dangerous) roadway into a unique neighborhood resource — which the DOT itself calls “the gold standard” of the open streets program.

The latest Streetfilms contribution comes during Streetsblog’s “Park Week” coverage, which not only included op-eds from key elected officials (and an urban planner and a council candidate), but also a post about a raucous meeting earlier in the week at which opponents of the open street berated two DOT officials for an hour (ironically on the open street that they seek to eliminate or reduce).

One day after that frenzied session, DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman visited 34th Avenue and pronounced it the “crown jewel” of the city’s effort to create more open space in dense neighborhoods. He praised the neighborhood’s diversity as well as the volunteer effort that enabled the activities seen in the video above, even as hecklers tried to drown out the good news.

Those hecklers — part of a group that calls itself “34th Avenue Open Streets Compromise” — will march on the open street on May 22 to protest … the open street. That prompted this meme:

This is a meme.
This is a meme.


On a Manhattan avenue where transit and high-occupancy vehicles take precedence and the curb is reserved for deliveries, large amounts of street space can be claimed for walking and biking. Image: Street Plans Collaborative

Envisioning NYC’s Next Streets Revolution

New York can be a city where everyone from young kids to elderly seniors can get around without fear, where neighborhood streets can be places of congregation and activity instead of motorways. To become that city, we'll have to shift a lot more street space from cars to transit, biking, and walking.