This week, RPA submitted testimony to the NYC Council Transportation Committee on proposed legislation to better regulate the city’s plazas and make them more successful public spaces. Promoting successful and welcoming pedestrian plazas is not new for RPA. In 1969, RPA first proposed closing Broadway to vehicular traffic between 59th and 23rd streets, creating an improved place for “strolling,” among other uses.
“There are many possibilities for improving pedestrian ways at street level, e.g., by converting present vehicular routes to pedestrian use, widening sidewalks or cutting new walkways through built-up areas.
One such opportunity is in the very dense Times Square area. Depending on traffic improvements which divert some traffic from the area, such as crosstown tunnels, Broadway could be closed to vehicles between 59th and 23rd Streets. Broadway is particularly suited to exclusive pedestrian use becuase its diagonal direction confuses traffic movement and because it is not paried with a northbound avenue. On the other hand, this portion of Broadway is a favorite place for strolling, night and day, as well as a busy place for people walking to a destination.” Regional Plan Association, Urban Design Manhattan, p. 108, 1969
The pedestrian transformation of Times Square later took place in 2009.