Join Neighbors on Friday afternoon for the Big Reveal of "W103rd St. Re-Imagined"
The year 2020 has thrown just about everything up into the air. We've paused, and in the pause our hyperlocal selves have had time and space to re-embrace our immediate environs. You've enjoyed your roof, your stoop, your sidewalk, your bike, and, when needed, your street as you spilled into the curb to give wide berth to each other. But you've also enjoyed each other, bumping into someone -- anyone -- after days of solitude was the highlight of many a 2020 day.
While not without controversy, the opening up of streets to people undeniably gave pedestrians refuge -- a huge port in the storm of Covid. Perhaps you've noticed that W. 103rd Street has been one of the streets that opened for neighbors -- especially kids -- to enjoy. New York City calls these 'Open Streets' as they are open and safe for walkers, bicyclists, and those in wheelchairs. Cars, delivery, and service vehicles have access, subject to a 5 m.p.h. speed limit. A harbinger of things to come?
There are many neighbors who hope that with all these open streets, we've crossed the Rubicon. Many have been buoyed by this unexpected momentum of prioritizing people over traffic. Of cleaner air and quieter airwaves.
It turns out that the groups Open Plans and Street Plans have been re-imagining a lot about W. 103rd Street, which near Broadway is home to an older adult community -- The Marseilles. Also, in the Marseilles's vacant storefrontage, the Purple Circle early childhood program will soon take up residence. Young and old cheek by jowl and in need of green space. That might also be an engine for the re-imagination of W. 103rd Street.
So here's a chance for you to come learn more for yourself about what's being tossed around. At a socially-distanced, outdoor occasion this Friday, Open Plans and Street Plans will welcome your input and invite you to complete surveys about how you might use W. 103rd Street as a magic-carpet connector from Riverside Park to Central Park.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we have to be prepared for everything! We must be willing to roll up our sleeves to make the society, the city, and the neighborhoods that we want. When coronavirus is no longer a threat, we need to be able to find each other and commune again. We need to seed the next generation of street-level commerce that has been chiseled away by years of our neglect, which I've written about at these links:
Part 1: We Got the Supply. Where's the Demand?
Part 2: In Joon, Our Fall
Part 3: Lincoln Plaza Cinemas: Fare Thee Well My Honey
Part 4: Three Restaurants Go Down in One Month
Part 5: A Glorious UWS 800-Person Wave Turns Back the Tide
Incredibly, we saw a remarkable reanimation of Broadway and Amsterdam with the recent outdoor café life, and perhaps there's a whole new business model there for our restaurants. But we do know that block after block of empty storefronts coupled with fewer pedestrians is a bad combo.
The pressure is still very much on for those very businesses who were hanging on pre-pandemic, and who now have been dealt a coup de grace by months of closure. Countless -- literally countless -- are lost and gone forever. Transformation can happen -- and often does happen -- quickly. Or at least tipping points come fast without warning after a long priming.
As we grind through these very hard times, there is so much potential right now to build back the way we want it, to push to the tipping point of our choosing. To demand reform at the commercial storefront level. To support greener streets and more vibrant avenues. To favor the strengthening of the fabric for all to benefit from.
I love this neighborhood and can imagine only the sky as the limit for Bloomingdale.
So mask up, come out on Friday to the SW corner of W. 103rd and Broadway, and tell the folks who are driving this innovative project what you think about their rethinking.
In the morning, you may find a parking space or two transformed into a parklet. And starting at noon, the Open Plans and Street Plans folks will be standing by to hear your take.
Rain date is October 30th. More below.