Fifth Avenue goes car-free for the holidays

‘Fifth Avenue is our front yard.’ Photo: Unsplash

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has unveiled plans to open the iconic Fifth Avenue, and make it “pedestrian-friendly” and car-free, for the holiday season.

Under Open Street, the Fifth Avenue corridor will be fully open to pedestrians between 48th Street and 59th Street, in addition to the area around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. (The Philippine Consulate is on 46th and Fifth and will not be covered within the designated area, but Filipinos who love to take visiting relatives to see Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be just as thrilled).

“This dramatic expansion of public space in one of the world’s busiest neighborhoods at this time of year will significantly ease crowding — facilitating access to the iconic holiday window displays and creating a more pleasant holiday environment while also enhancing public safety for New Yorkers and visitors,” Adams said in a press statement.

Fifth Avenue Open Street will run  on three Sundays: December 3, 10, and 17 between noon and 6 p.m.

Adams’ bold vision for a pedestrian- and family-friendly Fifth Avenue has also proven beneficial to local businesses. During the program in 2022, businesses saw an additional $3 million in spending — a 6.6 percent increase — according to a study conducted by Mastercard, in partnership with the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) and Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu.

“Open Streets are good for people and good for business, and we can’t wait to bring back the iconic Fifth Avenue Open Street this holiday season — bigger and better than ever,” said the mayor. “I felt the energy walking down the middle of Fifth Avenue last year — it was electric.”

‘Open Streets are good for people and for business,’ says Mayor Adams.

Fifth Avenue Open Street will be open only between 48th Street to 59th Street. Moveable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of Fifth Avenue, between 48th Street and 52nd Street. On days the street is not designated an Open Street, beginning in the early afternoon on weekdays and in the morning on weekends, these barriers will be used to repurpose a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue as additional pedestrian space. To accommodate high pedestrian traffic, westbound vehicle right turns will be prohibited from Fifth Avenue onto 47th Street, 49th Street, or 51st Street.

On the designated Sundays, Open Street visitors will be able to enjoy a range of performances and other forms of entertainment on multiple stages, along with street activations. Food and beverage vendors will also serve the area, and public seating will be provided.

“Here in New York City, our streets are our front yards — and especially during the holiday season, New Yorkers deserve wide-open front yards where they can walk, play, and shop,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi.

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