Tag Archives: Madison Avenue

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

Madison Square In A Vintage Painting

Paul Cornoyer Madison Square in the Afternoon – 1910

Paul Cornoyer (1864-1923) was an impressionist painter who worked primarily in New York City. This beautiful scene was painted in 1910 and is looking east across Madison Square Park, towards the tower of Madison Square Garden.

Madison Square Garden was built in 1890 by McKim, Mead & White, and took up the whole block from 26th to 27th streets between Madison and Park Avenues. Madison Square Garden was demolished in 1926 to make way for the New York Life Building.

Old New York in Photos #7

Two Homes With Different Fates

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Mansion (above) circa 1886 at the corner of 72nd Street and Madison Avenue designed by McKim, Mead & White.

The Joseph Pulitzer Mansion (below) 1903 at 7 East 73rd Street (just off of Fifth Avenue) designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White.

Pulitzer Residence 7 East 73rd Street

Louis Tiffany’s home was built starting in 1882 by his father Charles Tiffany, but the elder Tiffany never lived there. The 57 room mansion took three years to complete.

Right around the corner, Joseph Pulitzer, owner of The New York World newspaper also hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1900 to build his home which was completed in 1903.

Pulitzer lived in the house until he died in 1911. The building was vacant for many years and was sold by Pulitzer’s heirs and a large apartment building was to be built on the site but never was. The building was instead divided up into apartments and is now a co-op.

In 1933 Louis Tiffany died and the mansion was replaced in 1936 with an apartment building.