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A Coming-Out Party for New York's Secret Passageway

The "secret boulevard," running between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan through atrias, arcades, and public plazas from 51st Street to 57th Street, is getting attention and an upgrade from the Department of Transportation, reports Matt Chaban.
March 29, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The cut-through, already used by thousands of pedestrians a day, was created as "a quirk in the zoning" as dictated by Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) incentives utilized as the blocks developed in the 1970s. Now the DOT, led by Janette Sadik-Khan, is looking to formalize the pathway, providing "a new pedestrian avenue in the heart of Midtown, one of the densest, busiest places on Earth."

Chaban documents the incremental changes being proposed by the DOT, that will create "a series of traffic interventions to link up these disparate shortcuts."

"The plan calls for creating new pedestrian crossings between these public spaces, which generally are directly across the street from one another. Stop signs will be installed in front of new raised crosswalks. Warning markings-BUMP, STOP, chevrons and stripes-will all alert drivers to the new intersection while curbed cuts and painted street space will make crossing easier and prohibit parking."

Chaban also discusses the genesis of the project, which was initiated not by the DOT, but by "a ragtag band of planners, architects and urban obsessive."

"It was Friends of POPS that first came up with the idea of connecting these spaces, which the group dubbed Holly White Way, in honor of the influential planner and public spaces advocate who championed the creation and regulation of POPS."

The plan was approved this week by the Community Board 5 Transportation Committee, and moves to the full board on April 12th.

"'It's $60,000 to do all of this?' David Grider, an architect and chairman of Friends of POPS, said after the vote. 'It's wonderful. It just seems like very responsible low-hanging fruit.'"

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Published on Monday, March 26, 2012 in The New York Observer
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