A Queens Avenue Shows How City Streets Can be Reimagined
Weather situation: Cloudy, with a maximum in the 1980s. Scattered showers early in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
Parking on the alternative side: Valid until Sunday (Feast of the Assumption).
After the pandemic made safe gatherings indoors nearly impossible, New Yorkers sought fun on the streets. Dozens of kilometers have been blocked for cars. The new spaces have resulted in outdoor dining, safer bike paths, dances, concerts, impromptu sports games and more.
And while some residents argue that the closures lead to traffic jams and make parking even harder to find, other residents and planners who support ‘open streets’ say the experience shows how city streets could be reimagined. , maybe in perpetuity.
They say 34th Avenue in Queens shows what a modern street should look like.
“It’s quite an exercise in what is possible,” said Myrna Tinoco, 45, a social worker who roller skates on the avenue with her 6-year-old son. “At a minimum, just having the legroom to stretch would have been a godsend – and what we got was a little miracle.”
[The debate over 34th Avenue illustrates the challenge of reimagining streets in cities around the world once the pandemic recedes and traffic returns.]
Metal barriers go up at 8 a.m. daily, closing 1.3 miles of 34th Avenue.
On the streets, people take free classes in yoga, zumba, salsa, and Mexican folk dancing. Clowns, jugglers and acrobats performed in an ephemeral circus. Dogs dressed in rainbow-colored outfits and their owners marched together in a pride parade.
A pickup soccer game has become a nighttime tradition on 34th Avenue.
Janet Bravo and her husband, both Mexican immigrants, sell homemade tamales from a food truck on the avenue, earning between $ 300 and $ 400 a day.
By June 2020, daily pedestrian trips on 34th Avenue had doubled from pre-pandemic levels, and they have remained higher almost every month since, according to an analysis by StreetLight Data.
Some locals say the experiment has gone too far. In addition to creating traffic and parking problems, the open streets also make deliveries difficult, they say.
“It has always been a quiet residential street,” said Judy Grubin, former president of the local community council who lives one block from 34th Avenue. “Now there is so much commotion, noise and traffic that we don’t know what to do. “
In two open streets in north Brooklyn, barriers were vandalized, crushed and thrown into Newtown Creek.
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And finally: the new list of restaurant problems
The Times’ Julie Creswell and Priya Krishna write:
At Sylvia’s Restaurant, a 59-year-old Harlem mainstay who weathered the shocks and shutdowns of the first year of the pandemic, the city’s return to full capacity indoor dining this spring and summer has simply brought a new set of challenges.
Workers were so hard to find, even after the restaurant raised wages, that owners had to call in relatives across the country for help. Places inside remain limited because there are not enough workers to serve all the tables. Breakfast was put on a break. As food prices skyrocket, customer favorites like smothered prime rib have been taken off the menu.
New Yorkers have started the summer with the expectation of a grand reopening – tourists flock to visit, curfews lifted, and restaurants and nightlife regain their former buzz. But many restaurants are still dealing with the fallout from Covid closures while scrambling to satisfy an audience determined to enjoy a normal summer.
“Everyone was like, ‘OK, restaurants, go; you can open up again, ”said Tren’ness Woods-Black, an executive to Sylvia and a granddaughter of founder Sylvia Woods. “But it’s not as easy as turning on a light switch.”
Although clearly recovering from the blows of the past year and a half, New York’s restaurant industry is facing a multitude of disruptions. Many part-time artists and actors who worked in the city’s restaurants left the city when cultural venues closed. Staff shortages have exhausted the remaining employees and reduced service. Gaps in the food supply have resulted in simplified menus. And a crush of impatient, sometimes impatient diners adds to the tension.
It’s Monday, take a bite.
Metropolitan agenda: round trip
I lived on the Upper West Side, which meant every subway ride started with B or C to 59th Street.
And so, one muggy morning in August, it wasn’t until I took the train to Brooklyn for brunch at a friend’s house that I found the Sunset Park address on my phone.
It took over an hour to get there. When I finally did, I peeked out the apartment door and saw half a dozen people gibbering happily.
Long after doing the dishes, I apologized: I had another meeting that evening, so I had to take the metro back to relax before leaving.
After getting home, I took a late afternoon nap, then woke up, filled my water bottle, and walked back to the subway.
As the train passed 86th Street, I found the address of where I was going. I blinked several times. It must have been a mistake. I checked the original email. It wasn’t a mistake.
I texted the friend who hosted the brunch that morning, “Looks like I’m having dinner with your downstairs neighbor.
– Jeffrey Zuckerman
Illustrated by Agnès Lee. Read more about the metropolitan agenda here.
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