We’ve had a lot of excellent public plaza space come online over the past five years, including here in lower midtown Manhattan. I’ve already written about the excellent upgrade of Greeley and Herald squares, but in addition to that we’ve gotten two superb new POPS plazas here on the East Side, which have now had a few years to settle in: one at the NE corner of E 34 St and 1 Av (pictured above), and another at the NW corner of E 36 St and the FDR, across from the E 34 St NYC Ferry landing.
The E 34/1 Av plaza is spectacular, very much worthy of co-anchoring an important Manhattan intersection that’s a primary bus transfer point. Multiple types of seating, thoughtful and well-tended plantings, chairs and tables, a children’s area, a small basketball court, and a quick-service restaurant and large steam-table deli on the two edges. The developers did a very, very good job.
Similarly, the E 36/FDR plaza, while not spectacular, is Very Good. It’s built into the elbow of the American Copper towers, again with multiple types of seating and thoughtful planting, and a straight-on view of the side of the United Nations in one direction and the NYC Ferry landing in another. (You have to pretend the FDR’s been converted to a boulevard, but we’ll tackle that next.)
Why are there no bicycle facilities in or near either of these large, beautiful plazas? At American Copper, there’s flimsy parking for 4 bikes around the corner by the loading dock, and there are 3 or 4 metal signposts within a block, and that’s it. I repeat, the city’s second-busiest ferry landing is right across the street. People will come here on bikes! What should they do with them?
The Langone plaza, which is on Manhattan’s second- or third-busiest (right?) stretch of bicycle route, has the same problem. When I bike there, I end up locking to a bench, which is not ideal.
What we need is a revision of the POPS regulations to require basic bike accommodation (locking loops) in public spaces above a minimum square footage. These are plazas—there’s plenty of space!