The Green Line, New York City,, United States
Perkins Eastman

Let’s take a hard look at Broadway—that iconic thoroughfare that comprises the spine of lower Manhattan—and consider its true role and potential in the city. Centuries ago, Broadway served as a ridge-line trail used by indigenous peoples and settlers alike; cutting through the borough’s once hilly terrain and providing the main connection to points north. Fast forward to the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811, which established the city grid and left a pre-existing Broadway to cut diagonally through the lower third of the island. Broadway remained as a commercial and transportation spine, even with the introduction of a new network of avenues and cross streets. Today, the regular grid works fine throughout the city for surface transportation and development, while Broadway, from Columbus Circle to Union Square, is an “extra” street, a disruptor within the urban grid and not required for vehicular traffic.
 
It’s time to transform Broadway in midtown Manhattan into a linear, pedestrian-oriented park-like street, connecting Union Square, Madison Square, Herald Square, Times Square, and Columbus Circle. Like the High Line, it will provide new “found” outdoor recreational space in a dense urban environment. But rather than a detached destination park, we envision a public and contiguous arena buzzing with a myriad of activities, fully integrated at ground level with the life of New York City. Such a transformation would take an inhospitable, oft-congested and auto-centric (one-way!) street and “return” it to more like its original form – a dynamic, green, and pedestrian-oriented place.
 
The Green Line we envision would be a new type of public recreational space: a combination street/park, with necessary access points for emergency vehicles and cross-town traffic. The Green Line would build on historic precedents of pedestrian ways, like La Rambla in Barcelona, as well as offer something new: a street that benefits the natural environment. Lush plantings, permeable pavers, bio-swales, playgrounds, dog runs, a running and bike path, performance and sitting areas; these features would not only offer some relief to an overburdened stormwater management system, but also provide a great new asset for businesses and residential areas fronting it. 
 
Admittedly, the history of taking all cars off streets in American cities has not, on the whole, been very encouraging. Many cities that have tried removing cars from city streets have wound up with failed retail pedestrian malls. But Broadway is not like a Main Street in a smaller city. In fact, this central spine is no longer a destination for private vehicles, and no businesses along Broadway depend on easy access by car. Broadway is not a bus route, or much of a car route. It is a subway street, a bike route, and, increasingly, a place for pedestrians. Reimagining it as a memorable recreational destination transforms its disruptive geometry into a new benefit to the millions of New Yorkers and visitors who would use it in a new way every day.

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