Vehicle access will be restricted to protect pedestrians and provide them with more space. On November 24, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that temporary expanded pedestrian space would be added around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall to accommodate holiday crowds. As the pandemic limited holiday crowds last year, more crowds are expected to return to New York City to enjoy holiday festivities.
Starting from this past weekend, the City will use movable barriers to fully or partially close streets to allow for pedestrians to spread out from sidewalks to ease crowding. The following changes will occur:
– Pedestrian-only side streets: 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be closed to vehicular traffic between 11 AM to midnight daily. There will be even stricter protocols to manage crowds on December 1st, the day of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony.
– 5th Avenue: Between 48th and 52nd Streets, movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 5th Avenue to create additional pedestrian space. No turns will be allowed onto 47th, 49th or 51st Streets.
– 6th Avenue: Between 48th and 52nd Streets, movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 6th Avenue to eliminate one lane of traffic to create more pedestrian space.
– MTA Buses will bypass all stops between 48th and 52nd Streets, and crosstown buses will be rerouted around Rockefeller Center during the pedestrian-only hours. City officials encourage New Yorkers and visitors to use public transportation to get around the city during the busy holiday season.
The NYPD will monitor crowd conditions at all times to determine if and when adjustments to barriers are necessary.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stated, “No place on earth is more magical than midtown during the holidays, and New Yorkers and visitors alike will get to enjoy the neighborhood with more pedestrian space than ever. Public transit is the best way to get to the neighborhood, and these pedestrianized streets will create a safe, spacious, and welcoming environment for everyone who enjoys the holiday season.”
DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman stated, “We expect that as New York City continues to recover from the pandemic, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will once again be a major destination for New Yorkers and of course for the tourists once again flocking to our city. Creating more space for pedestrians around Rockefeller Center will keep people safe while ensuring minimal disruption to the rest of the life of the city. New Yorkers can of course do their part by avoiding unnecessary driving in Midtown during the holiday season.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer stated, “Today I am thankful that we will have an expanded pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season. I am excited to light the tree and close the streets to cars! The pandemic has shown the benefits that streets oriented around pedestrians and not cars bring to New Yorkers. Expanding pedestrian space to allow New Yorkers and tourists to finally return to this beloved holiday experience is the perfect way to welcome visitors back to our City as it continues to reopen. Thank you to Councilmember Powers and the Mayor for working with me to get this done.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)