Thursday’s Headlines: ‘Miracle on 34th Avenue’ Edition

The joy of car-free streets can be seen every day on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
The joy of car-free streets can be seen every day on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

Today is the year anniversary of the premier of Streetsfilms’s “Miracle on 34th Avenue,” the video by the immortal Clarence Eckerson that prompted New Yorkers (and the world) to ponder the ramifications of the delightful Jackson Heights open street and to begin to think more broadly about claiming city streets for people.

In the year since the video’s debut, 34th Avenue emerged as the “gold standard” of open streets citywide and became a cause célèbre for those who want to turn the avenue into a linear park. Ordinary citizens took time out of their days not only to volunteer to keep the open street going, but to extoll the difference it was making in their lives and community, especially in the lives of children who needed open space in a dreadfully park-poor neighborhood.

Activists saw in it a chance to rectify decades of racist land-use policy. Others envisioned a living memorial to the pandemic, which struck so cruelly and centrally in Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst. Elected officials, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards,  Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Council Member Danny Dromm, and mayoral hopeful Kathryn Garcia, understood the importance of what had become an iconic public space.

How sad then that, even as the city began exploring how to make the open street permanent, an entitled car-owning minority sought to shut down the glorious experiment, proposing a fake “compromise” that amounts to the sum of their grievances.

As a new day dawns in the city with a new mayor and wholesale changeover of the City Council, we hope and pray that 34th Avenue will remain a place for people and a sign of things to come in the city and the world over.

In other news:

  • The MTA is the latest victim of hacking. (NYDN, Gothamist, NYPost)
  • The Brooklyn DA has indicted the reckless driver who killed Rosana Lopez in December. (Patch)
  • Why does Dermot Shea still have a job? The NYPD can close Washington Square Park in seconds, but it takes hours for it to figure out the difference between political protest and looting. (Intercept)
  • L.A. has tasty ideas for NYC on the street-vendor front. (Curbed)
  • Oy vey: E-bike rider threatens traffic cops. (NYDN)
  • City Council candidates of South Asian extraction are making the taxi-medallion crisis an issue in the campaign. (TheCity)
  • ICYMI: Actor/activist Cynthia Nixon endorsed NIMBY lawyer Arthur Schwartz for the 3rd City Council District (Village Sun)
  • Speaking of the Village Sun, its editor, Lincoln Anderson, has been keeping an eagle eye on the bizarre police action in Washington Square Park. (Village Sun)
  • Greenway rumble: Conventional cyclists and e-bikers are mixing it up, as we see in such upper Manhattan venues as Fort Washington Park. (WSJ)
  • Finally, we’ll give Second Ave. Sagas the last word on last night’s mayoral debate. (Via Twitter)

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