Takin’ it to the (car-free) street: Mural enlivens Broadway

The Urban Garden on Broadway between W. 37th and 38th Sts. will run through August. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

BY GABE HERMAN | Talk about street art!

A new mural that stretches along Broadway for a block in Midtown is part of the annual Urban Garden program by the Garment District Alliance, which cordons off a street to cars to create more pedestrian-oriented space.

The closed-off block, Broadway between W. 37th and 38th Sts., features a 180-foot-long mural — on the street. Called “Nymph Pond,” it’s by artist Carla Torres and debuted on July 11.

The artwork was inspired by a small pond in the Galapagos Islands where the artist used to visit, according to the Garment District Alliance, which is a business improvement district, or BID. Torres is originally from Quito, Ecuador, and moved to New York City in 2006 to pursue a career as an artist and illustrator.

Part of the “Nymph Pond” mural by Carla Torres. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

The block is also part of the BID’s year-round Art on the Plaza program, which has run since 2010, along with the Department of Transportation’s Seasonal Streets Program, which turns streets into public plazas.

The closed-off block includes stretches of green turf, cafe chairs and tables, birch trees, planters and a bike lane that runs alongside the mural. There will also be free lemonade and live music on Wednesday afternoons. The Urban Garden will run through Aug. 31.

The Urban Garden block is closed off to cars. (Photo by Gabe Herman)

This is one of several attempts in the city to transform streets temporarily into public spaces. The first three Saturdays in August will see the return of D.O.T.’s Summer Streets program; on Aug. 3, 10 and 17, between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., seven miles of streets will be car-free from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, including Park Ave. and connecting streets.

Free activities on the closed-off Summer Streets will include fitness programs, play areas for kids and food stands. Last year the program drew almost 300,000 people, according to D.O.T. It’s modeled after similar events that occur worldwide, including in Paris, Bogota and London.

Earlier this year, the city also held its annual Car-Free Day on April 27, during which 30 blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic between Times Square and Union Square.

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