Better Streets Called a Top Reason to Love New York

<em>New York Magazine</em>'s list of reasons to love New York includes a nod to the city's streets and their recent renovation into pedestrian- and bike-friendly thoroughfares.
December 17, 2008, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"For decades, it was almost inconceivable that any American city would requisition turf from motorized vehicles and turn it over to people who would use it for such low-speed, inefficient activities as strolling or sitting around. Robert Moses, who didn't drive, nevertheless believed that the well-made street should speed the car. That long-unchallenged assumption has found an opponent in Commissioner of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, who last year hired Jan Gehl, the Danish guru of pedestrianism, to help transform traffic arteries into more-textured public places."

"In the twenty months since Sadik-Khan took office, she has swiftly refashioned miles of streets, using inexpensive materials and commando operations. The commissioner often commutes by bicycle, and she made sure her two-wheeled people got their very own slice of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, delimited by the curb on one side and a landscaped median on the other. Where the avenue widens at 14th Street, a low-tech armory of heavy planters, paint, and metal chairs has secured a pleasant haven in the middle of southbound traffic. Two blocks farther downtown is Gansevoort Plaza, where blocks of salvaged granite arranged into funky seating and a phalanx of spherical, nippled bollards protect a new pedestrian habitat. Across town at Madison Square, another loiterer's haven has sprouted at an intersection that once was clogged with traffic."

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Published on Monday, December 15, 2008 in New York Magazine
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