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Last week, East 43rd Street was less chaotic than usual as it became momentarily car-free between Lexington and Third Avenue. The temporary street closure, according to Streetsblog NYC, is just a taste of what’s in the works for New Yorkers.

As part of the rezoning of Midtown East, approved by City Council just two months ago, the Department of Transportation plans to transform this block into a “shared space,” where pedestrians are the priority and vehicle access is limited to pick-ups and deliveries.

Normally bustling with vehicular activity, the chosen street, which ends at Grand Central Terminal’s Lexington entrance, was transformed into a pedestrian-friendly space on Friday. Visitors immediately congregated on the street to take advantage of the various amenities the DOT set up, including picnic tables, a book kiosk, a mini golf and croquet set and a jazz band.


“What you’re seeing today is more like a temporary street closure, but I think it gives you a flavor of what’s to come and how important this will be,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said at a press conference Friday.

“We want to play on our strengths, which include being next to our most important transit hub, in Grand Central,” Council Member Dan Garodnick said. “And we want the pedestrian experience to be as significant as the Class-A office building experience, and that is why we wanted to have a grand entranceway to Grand Central, in a few different parts of the neighborhood.”

The DOT’s plans to debut a preliminary version of the shared space in the spring — akin to the block of shared space on Broadway by Madison Square. In addition, two other blocks near Grand Central Terminal  — the Pershing Square plaza and Vanderbilt between 42nd and 43rd — are also car-free or on the docket to become so.

Earlier this year, DOT created its first full-time shared street in the Flatiron District on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets.

Next, check out 10 Forgotten Examples of NYC’s Car-Centric History from Old Penn Station’s Driveways to Washington Square Park’s Parking.

 Flatiron District, Grand Central Terminal

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