Big news from Streetsblog New York. Mayor Bloomberg has unveiled plans to turn large swathes of Broadway into car-free pedestrian space. Broadway will be entirely closed to vehicles from 42nd to 47th street, and generous public space will be intertwined throughout the span of the road. According to Aaron Naparstek,
"Mayor Bloomberg's plan for Broadway is, arguably, the boldest and most transformative street reclamation project since Portland, Oregon decided to tear down the Mt. Hood Freeway in 1974."The New York Times took a bit a of different angle in their coverage, headlining the article "Mayor Plans to Close Parts of Broadway to Traffic," which is a funny choice of a catchphrase because engineers estimate that these changes will actually enhance traffic flow. Anyway ...
When plans were being drawn up for pedestrianizing Broadway last year, I wrote about how much of a model the original urban layout of New York was for town after town across the American frontier. Almost every town has their own Broadway, and the trademark grid-iron street matrix was the plat for almost all downtowns. New York was the model American city.
Of course, that ended decades ago, and urban growth patterns began modeling themselves after Los Angeles or any number of metroplex regions dotting the landscape. I wonder if the new Broadway indicates a renaissance for the New York model, updated to meet the wishes and constraints of the contemporary American reality. Is this new Broadway a harbinger for a coming transformation of its progeny, all of the other Broadways running through downtowns across the country?