Broadway To Remain Car-Free Forever

by BILLY GRAY · February 11, 2010

Despite falling short of its goal to ease Midtown gridlock, the experiment to close two of the most congested swaths of Broadway to vehicles has been made permanent. Break out the tattered lawn chairs and enjoy that front-row view of ESPN Zone!

Last spring, Broadway around Times and Herald Squares became a pedestrian lolling ground, as the Department of Transportation banished all manner of vehicular transportation from those stretches. In the wise words of the Goo Goo Dolls, the light emanating from the Great White Way was "a little bit weaker than it used to be."

In place of screeching taxis, you had scenes of tourists and Times Square office workers stretching out on the hot pavement all summer. Organizers initially hoped the experiment would reduce north and southbound traveling times by between 20 and 40%. And although a report released last week was cagey about the actual results, even Michael Bloomberg conceded they were disappointing.

I personally thought the frenetic hustle and bustle of Times Square (particularly in the absence of actual hustlers in its current incarnation) was one of the few things that saved it from morphing completely into an alfresco urban equivalent of the Mall of America.

But unfazed, the people of Midtown are now allowed to graze.

(Photos Courtesy of Damon Winter/NYT)