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Eyes on the Street

Penn Station Block Completes Years-Long Transformation into ‘Plaza33’

Overcrowded cars and unlimited traffic filled the block next to Penn Station as recently as 2015.

Photo: Jackie Zamora|

Plaza33 has finally reopened outside Penn Station.

City officials officially cut the ribbon on the latest iteration of "Plaza33" — the pedestrian-only strip once dominated by cars outside Penn Station.

Overcrowded cars and unlimited traffic filled the block next to Penn Station as recently as 2015. Today, it's a car-free oasis in busy Manhattan — where New Yorkers and visitors alike sit and relax away from the exhaust and noise of auto traffic.

On Monday, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Assembly Member Tony Simone, Council Member Erik Bottcher and other civic leaders celebrated the official completion of Plaza33 after years of construction on the site.

“This is incredible, where we're standing right now. It was full of cars and trucks just a few years ago," Levine said. "I remember the battle over transforming this space and all the people who said that it would clog up traffic all over Midtown if we turned this street over to people and here we are and it's gorgeous."

Vornado funded the $65-million plaza build-out in partnership with the city's Department of Transportation.

33rd Street west of Seventh Avenue as it looked back in the early 2010s.Photo via Google Maps
The same space as it looks today.Photo: Jackie Zamora

The real estate company and DOT made the pedestrian space permanent in 2016 after launching it as a temporary plaza the year before. MTA construction on a new LIRR entrance to Penn Station within the space delayed the concrete build-out of a permanent design until this year.

Plaza33 — in its pre-construction, "temporary" form — back in 2016.Photo: David Meyer
The new seating at Plaza33 in 2024.Photo: Jackie Zamora

The new plaza fills a little less than half of 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. The 16,000-square foot space includes trees, public seating and tables, restaurant seating and space for public programming.

Cynthia Reyes, who works near the plaza, told Streetsblog she was thrilled about its grand opening.

"Working around here is a very congested area," said Reyes.

"It's a relief that, [as] someone who has a limited time during breaks, it'll make it easier for me and others to grab lunch and enjoy the space."

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