Tag Archives: 57th Street

Banning Cars On City Streets In Manhattan – Not A New Idea

Fifth Avenue – Sans Cars 1970

The Story Of Mayor John Lindsay’s Pedestrian Malls

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom photo shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970 as traffic was cleared

While many environmental and safety groups bandy about various schemes for making streets safer for pedestrians by removing or limiting cars from city streets, the idea is older than you might think.

During his tenure as mayor of New York City from 1966-1973, John Lindsay always favored pedestrians.

Lindsay’s initial ban of cars took place in May of 1969. Lindsay and the city closed a small area of Nassau Street in downtown Manhattan as part of a temporary 90 day experiment during lunch hour from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M..

After 90 days Lindsay declared the “experimental” closure permanent.

The next year on April 22, 1970 the city closed some streets for the first Earth Day.

It’s one thing to shut down a narrow street in the financial district or some larger streets for a special occasion like Earth Day, it’s quite another to ban cars in the heart of New York’s shopping district.

Lindsay’s bigger plans came to fruition, also as an experiment, 44 years ago on Saturday, July 11, 1970. Lindsay closed vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., on a fifteen block stretch on Fifth Avenue from 42nd through 57th Streets.

The day before the experiment Mayor Lindsay said, “New Yorker’s should enjoy the most beautiful and exciting street when it becomes a pedestrian mall.”

This would also be different because the merchants along Fifth Avenue were not enamored with the idea. It was the first concerted effort by city officials to see the impact of a traffic closure on a major New York City street and observe the effects on noise, air quality and more importantly, quality of life. Continue reading

Proposed Bridges Of New York City In 1911

In 1911 The Proposed McCarren Bridge Was To Replace The “Old” Brooklyn Bridge So It Could Be Reconstructed

Existing and Proposed Bridges New York City 1911

Existing & proposed bridges New York City 1911 – note the four lower Manhattan bridges instead of three (click to enlarge)

From the New York Tribune of January 1, 1911 comes this illustration showing New York City with its existing bridges and some proposed new ones.

Sandwiched very tightly between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge  connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, is a proposed new bridge which was to be called the McCarren Bridge named after “Long Pat” McCarren (1847-1909) a state senator who was Brooklyn’s Democratic political boss during the late 1800’s.

Once the proposed McCarren Bridge became a reality, city engineers planned to close and rebuild the Brooklyn Bridge.  The engineers feared that the increase in heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge would necessitate additional strength being added, otherwise a support or cable might give way causing a horrible catastrophe.  Borings were even made at the site, but the McCarren Bridge was never built.

Other proposed bridges in the illustration show the Hell Gate Bridge which was begun in 1912 and completed in 1916.

Further north on the Harlem River connecting upper Manhattan with the Bronx is another proposed bridge that was never built nestled between the University Heights/West 207th Street Bridge and Washington Bridge. This bridge would have been located at 177th Street in the Bronx and was to be called The Morris Heights Bridge. Continue reading