Mayor Eric Adams poses for a photo op during open streets on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)
That’s a wrap for the 2023 holiday season Open Streets in Midtown Manhattan, as Mayor Eric Adams celebrated the program’s conclusion Sunday despite rainy conditions.
Last year’s inaugural open streets program during the most wonderful time of the year proved successful for businesses along the 5th Avenue corridor, the mayor noted, as businesses reported an additional $3 million in revenue.
This year, the city expanded the popular program by nearly 25%, allowing New Yorkers and tourists alike to stroll up and down 5th Avenue from 48th to 59th Streets, between Rockefeller Center and Central Park, in a car-free environment, taking in the marvelous sights of the iconic holiday window displays, enjoy a range of entertainment, and buying holiday presents.
The program just as successful this season, Mayor Adams said, even though Open Streets were scrapped for one of the three scheduled Sundays, Dec. 10, due to inclement weather.
At a press conference in front of Bergdorf Goodman, Mayor Eric Adams touted the program’s success, allowing scores of visitors to experience the beauty of the holiday season in New York City.
“We want you to really capture memories by enjoying Fifth Avenue,” the mayor said. “It’s been almost 50 years since you were able to scroll up and down Fifth Avenue and enjoy the holiday spirit. There’s no better place to be in the country around the holiday season than in New York City, from the tree lighting to our shops, our stores.”
City Council Member Gale Brewer described shopping on Fifth Avenue during the holiday season as “very, very special.”
“People come from all over the world just to see these Bergdorf Goodman windows,” Brewer said.
City Council Member Keith Powers pointed out the score of visitors sauntering along Fifth Avenue despite the rain. Powers credited the mayor and his team for opening Fifth Avenue to pedestrians only on three Sundays during the holiday season.
“But now we’re also talking about the long-term future of this amazing Avenue, which deserves to be iconic, like so many other boulevards throughout the city,” Powers said, “and we’re coming up with a big long-term plan for this area which is going to make this look like this all the time, amazing and accessible, and open the people.”
Plans for a safer, pedestrian-centered Fifth Avenue are in the works.
Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi said that post-COVID-19 New Yorkers wanted to spend more time outside and shared with amNewYork that the city’s permanent vision was a much more pedestrian-friendly Fifth Avenue.
“We have two jewels, Bryant Park and Central Park. We can have a boulevard in between them,” Joshi said. “So we’re absolutely working towards that goal.”
Joshi explained the city was working with business associations, the Central Park Conservancy and the Bryant Park Corporation to make Fifth Avenue safer and more pedestrian-friendly.
“There’s so many people that want to be on Fifth Avenue that crowd control is something we shouldn’t have to deal with,” Joshi said. “We should allow people to have full access to the Street. So, really widening the sidewalks is our number one priority.”