Mayor Announces Holiday Open Street, Pedestrian Space Around Rockefeller Center and Small Business Support Campaigns

One of the new campaign ads to support NYC bookstores this holiday season. Image Credit: NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

The pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center returns to help accommodate holiday crowds. On November 22, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced the City’s largest holiday season specific open street and the return of the pedestrianized area around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season, along with two new ad campaigns to support local and small businesses. Temporary pedestrian spaces ease crowding and enhance public safety as thousands of visitors and New Yorkers celebrate the holiday season.  For CityLand’s other coverage of holiday activities for 2022, click here

Open Street and Pedestrian Spaces in Midtown

Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue is a popular destination for visitors to see beautiful holiday window displays. On December 4, 11, and 18 from 12 PM to 6 PM Fifth Avenue will be open only to pedestrians from 48th Street to 57th Street as an Open Street. On these days, visitors will be able to see performances including drum lines, a samba group and choirs. Food and beverage vendors and seating will also be available. A full list of activities and amenities will be posted here soon. 

Outside of these times, moveable barriers will be placed along the sides of Fifth Avenue from 48th to 52nd Street, and these barriers will be used to repurpose a lane of traffic on each side of the street for additional pedestrian space. Westbound vehicles will be prohibited from making right turns off Fifth Avenue onto 47th, 49th and 51st Street. 

The Open Street has been made possible through a partnership between the Department of Transportation, the New York City Police Department and the Fifth Avenue Association. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is one of the most popular holiday destinations for both New Yorkers and tourists each year; in prior years overcrowded sidewalks forced some visitors into the street and in danger of passing traffic. Elected officials had called for a pedestrianized space around Rockefeller Center to better accommodate the crowds, and the first pedestrianized space there was piloted in 2019. 

This year’s tree lighting will take place on Wednesday, November 30th. From then to mid-January, the streets around Rockefeller Center will be pedestrianized by the use of moveable barriers to partially or fully close streets. The impacted areas include West 49th and West 50th Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues between 11 AM and midnight daily. 

Barriers will also be placed along the east side of Sixth Avenue from 48th Street to 52nd Street to give one lane of traffic to pedestrian space. 

Bus Service Changes

All MTA crosstown buses will be rerouted during pedestrian-only hours on cross-streets. On Fifth Avenue, buses will bypass stops between 48th and 52nd Street. On Open Street Sundays, buses will be rerouted to southbound avenues. 

Supporting Local Businesses

In addition to the pedestrian spaces, Mayor Adams also announced two new campaigns to support local businesses through the holiday season. The Department of Small Business Services runs the “Shop Your City” marketing and social media campaign, which provides New Yorkers with more information about local businesses. The “Shop Your City” campaign will encourage New Yorkers to shop at small businesses on Small Business Saturday on November 26th. Ads for the campaign will appear in LinkNYC kiosks, social media sites, Pandora, Spotify, Google, local community and ethnic print and online publications, bodegas and subway stations. 

For more information on local businesses, visit the “Shop Your City” site here.

In addition, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) has a new campaign “It’s Time for New York: Bookstores”, which promotes local bookstores for the holiday season. The campaign will run through late December and will be found on the subway and on social media. A list of bookstores is available online here. New Yorkers can use #NYCLovesBookstores on social media to support the campaign. 

The two campaigns will invest almost $200,000 to support local businesses.

Mayor Adams stated, “Every year, people come from across the world to New York City, and to Midtown Manhattan specifically, during the holiday season. This year, we are going to make that experience safer and more enjoyable for all New Yorkers and visitors with more access to Open Streets. This is the kind of bold, creative thinking that we need to ensure the city’s comeback is strong, equitable, and inclusive. And to all those coming in from out of town, I have only two messages: Happy holidays and spend money.”

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III stated, “There is no place better in the world than New York City during the holidays. This initiative takes the destinations that make it the best and makes them even better, more accessible, and more safe. We look forward to seeing our residents and visitors at these landmark areas and wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season.”

Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim stated, “New Yorkers don’t have to travel far to find the perfect holiday gift. With wonderful small businesses on every corner, New Yorkers across the five boroughs are lucky and should take the opportunity to shop small and local this holiday season. By creating an Open Street along Fifth Avenue, we are creating a pedestrian paradise benefiting storefronts as well as shoppers.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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