Designing Open Streets & Plaza Blocks: The Transformation of NYC’s 34th Ave

In NYC at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio set aside a small number of streets throughout NYC as open streets. None was as popular or as successful as Queens' 34th Avenue, it started as six blocks but was eventually expanded to 1.3 miles.

Through the next year the program was made permanent with the 34th Avenue Open Street Coalition putting out barriers daily. Eventually after community meetings, the NYC DOT allocated more funding and another group (Friends of 34th Avenue Linear Park) advocated for more permanence and better street design. Together the two groups working with community and elected leaders agreed that the street should have multiple style blocks with some around schools completely closed to cars (plaza blocks) while others should have various treatments to discourage thru travel by drivers.

In the Summer of 2022, the NYC DOT implemented a plan in which most of the 26 blocks were given just that using a unique series of closures, planters, chicanes, concrete blocks, diverters, bike lanes, neighborhood loading zones, flex posts, curb extensions and street textures to calm the street 24 hours a day, while still deploying barricades from the hours of 7am to 8pm daily.

In the late Fall, Streetfilms got the opportunity to walk some of the open street to ask Eric Beaton (Deputy Comm. for Transportation Planning & Management, NYC DOT) and Emily Weidenhof (Director of Public Space) to explain these treatments on camera and about future plans for the corridor. Please check it out!