Why Is There a Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue in Midtown?

Posted On Mon, February 1, 2016 By

Posted On Mon, February 1, 2016 By In Midtown, Transportation, Urban Design

If you’ve never heard of it, that may be because this quarter-mile, pedestrian-only street is nearly hidden among the office towers of Midtown. Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue was the first fractional street in the city’s grid system, created in 2012 by the Department of Transportation to encourage people to use the public plazas and covered areas that form a path between 51st Street to 57th Street.

6 1/2 Avenue, sixth and a half avenue, pops, privately owned public spaces, midtown arcades, pedestrian arcades, quirky city spacesSixth and a Half Avenue Looking North from 51st Street

Moved along by stop signs, speed humps, and crosswalks through six blocks, the Avenue cuts through open-access lobbies (called POPS–Privately Owned Public Spaces) and covered spaces between office buildings. There are three points of entry on 57th street, including an outdoor arcade at 1325 Sixth Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets where tables and chairs make it a popular open-air destination for lunch breaks, as well as the lobby of the Le Parker Méridien hotel at 118 West 57th street.

There’s an ongoing battle between the hotel and the city over this elegant lobby: It’s technically a public arcade, which means the hotel is required to provide a certain number of tables and chairs for the public–which it hasn’t always done. A similar arcade at 146 West 57th Street is another entry point for the little half-avenue; it’s the lobby of Metropolitan Tower. While there’s a security guard and doors at either end, there is signage indicating that it’s open to the public. But if you’re just a pedestrian who’s not used to cutting through, you might feel like an unwelcome guest.

[Via Ephemeral NY]

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