New ‘Open Boulevards’ will bring dining, performances, art and more to NYC streets
Photo courtesy of the Belmont Business Improvement District
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced plans to reimagine New York City streets once again with “Open Boulevards,” an expansion of the popular Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs that launched at the start of the pandemic. The mayor said the initiative “supercharges” the existing program with “multiple blocks in a row filled with restaurants, performances, and community activities.” The Open Boulevards announcement continues City Hall’s “Streets Week!,” which so far has included new plans to lower speed limits and add protected bike lanes.
Led by the city’s Department of Transportation and NYC & Company, the program will include new branding to make the street’s designation clear, as well as chairs and picnic tables, art installations, and landscaping, according to the mayor. The city hopes to promote the Open Boulevards as a way to attract tourists to each location.
“This is going to be the kind of thing people are going to love because of all the life and vitality of New York City, all of the diversity, all of the energy, will be on display on these Open Boulevards.”
To start, the city will launch 10 Open Boulevards across the city, with more to be announced on a rolling basis. More details on operating hours and days can be found here. The first streets to open under the program include:
- Alexander Avenue, from Bruckner Boulevard to East 134th Street
- Arthur Avenue, from East 187th Street and Crescent Avenue
- Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, from Dean Street to Park Place, Sterling Place to Berkley Place, President Street to Third Street, and 10th Street to 13th Street.
- Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, from 39th Street to 41st Street, 45th Street to 47th Street, and 55th Street to 59th Street.
- Vanderbilt Avenue, from Atlantic Avenue to Park Place
- Amsterdam Avenue, from 106th Street to 110th Street
- Columbus Avenue, from 106th Street to 110th Street
- Ditmars Boulevard, from 33rd Street to 36th Street
- Woodside Avenue, from 76th to 78th Street
- Minthorne Street, from Victory Boulevard to Bay Street
“We’re pleased to support the new ‘Open Boulevards’ plan that will not only expand the City’s café culture across the five boroughs, but also add new arts, culture and community elements that will help boost New York City’s reawakening and attract visitors this summer and beyond,” Fred Dixon, president and CEO at NYC & Company, said in a press release.
The mayor said he will sign legislation on Thursday that will make Open Streets permanent. Since the program began in April 2020, 67 miles of streets have closed to cars citywide, short of the city’s original goal of 100 miles of open streets.
In addition to mandating a dedicated city-run program, the legislation allows community groups to apply to operate an open street and “require that DOT manage or provide resources to at least 20 open street sites in areas that would be otherwise underserved by the program.”
De Blasio on Wednesday also announced plans to improve public space and bring programming to neighborhoods hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. The city’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity identified 33 neighborhoods disproportionately affected by COVID. In 20 of those neighborhoods, projects, including opening new open streets, plazas, street seating, and performance art, are already underway.