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Eyes on the Street

WALK THIS WAY: NYPD Removes Some Barricades on Park Row

Some barricades are gone from the Civic Center security theater, but many still remain. And it's just plain wrong, locals say.

Photo: Kevin Duggan|

Only a few barricades remain on Park Row.

It's a start...

The Police Department removed some of the many steel barricades littering Park Row over the weekend, partially clearing the area near police headquarters and state and federal courthouses that has become Checkpoint Charlie of unnecessary security infrastructure. 

The Finest’s removal of the proliferating metal dividers comes after Streetsblog detailed how the barriers were blocking the right of way on the row — and how locals were demanding that the state and federal government agencies remove their barriers, too. 

Locals spotted NYPD loading barricades into a truck over the New Year's weekend. Photo: provided to Streetsblog

Police took away the barricades from sidewalks on Park Row over the New Year’s Eve weekend, locals said; an NYPD representative told the Park Row Alliance, a local civic group, that the change was permanent because cops understood the fences were inconveniencing residents. 

“Those ugly barricades have been driving everyone crazy, now they’re mostly gone. What a big lovely New Year’s surprise,” said Lucy West, a longtime resident of the adjacent Chatham Green complex and member of Park Row Alliance, a civic organization. “What I’d like to see next is take the rest of the barricades down around this neighborhood, not just Park Row.”

Here's what the sidewalk on Park Row looked like in September. For no reason.Photo: provided to Streetsblog

West noted that the barricades forced the area's many seniors to detour for most of the block just to cross the street and visit neighbors — and that the barrier openings could move around depending on the day.

“You had just had to walk out of your way or try to figure out where the opening was today to get where you needed to go — and it was ugly,” West said. 

Another view or the Park Row sidewalk filled with fencing from August. Photo: Kevin Duggan

Some of the NYPD-branded fencing remains on Park Row, particularly near the checkpoint booths at the intersection of Worth Street.

An NYPD spokesperson who declined to provide a name also declined to comment, saying the agency "does not discuss security measures" (even though it literally always does).

NYPD left a cage intact, which locals say is for its police dogs, but removed the remaining barricades along the sidewalk. Photo: Kevin Duggan

The NYPD has closed Park Row to car traffic since 9/11 citing security risks on the road that runs right next to the the Department's headquarters at 1 Police Plaza, but the Finest have taken over much of the area, with one officer once telling West that they consider it "our campus."

"That’s what it feels like," she said. "[But] who allotted it the police campus?"

Mayor Adams almost reopened Park Row to general vehicles for the first time since the 2001 terror attacks at the behest of Council Member Chris Marte and local business groups, but Hizzoner backtracked after other pols urged the city do more public outreach first.

The area has long been an Off-Broadway playhouse of security theater, but locals said cops and court officials limited pedestrian flow more following the George Floyd protests in 2020 with swaths of ad-hoc barriers — while not revealing who decided to put them there or whom to ask to take them back down, lamented another neighbor.

“We don’t know who put the barriers up or why they went up,” said Felix Salmon, a Chatham Towers resident. “There’s still just a massive amount of opacity there.”

The faceless federal and state officials should remove some of their setups like the NYPD did, Salmon said. 

“Maybe these agencies can talk to each other, or there’s a human being somewhere that can make a similar decision,” the Manhattanite said.

For example, a pedestrian passageway behind the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse that connects Pearl Street and Worth Street was still partially cordoned off with barricades, with security officers leaving a gap for people to pass through. 

The feds moved the barricades back from the bollards along the sidewalk, but they still close that alley off entirely at nights and weekends, locals said. 

The passageway behind the Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse connecting Pearl and Worth Streets still has barricades, albeit pushed further back. Photo: Kevin Duggan

The U.S. Marshals Service, which is in charge of security at federal courthouses, did not immediately respond for comment. 

The state’s Supreme Court steps on Centre Street, of “Law and Order” fame, are also almost entirely sealed by a line of barricades, leaving just a narrow path down the middle for people to access the colonnaded judicial building.

The state Supreme Courthouse on Centre Street is still largely fenced off. Photo: Kevin Duggan

The state’s Office of Court Administration previously raised concerns about skaters damaging the steps and handrails of the 1920s courthouse. 

An OCA spokesperson said on Tuesday that the steps are already in such bad shape that they pose a hazard, so they need to be largely blocked off. 

“The barricades are necessary outside the historical court building to help ensure public safety, cordoning off steps of the city-owned landmark that are in such disrepair they present a safety issue. The barricades also act as a deterrent to help keep vandals from further eroding the entrance to the landmark building until it can be fixed,” spokesman Al Baker said in a statement.  

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