Stretch of Soho will be pedestrian-only on Friday

Looking east down Howard St., from Broadway toward Crosby St. (Google Maps)

BY GABE HERMAN | Soho has its fair share of traffic and congestion, but two blocks of the neighborhood may find some relief on Fri., Sept. 6, when they become pedestrian-only spaces for the day.

From 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Howard St., which is four blocks long, will be closed to traffic along the two blocks from Mercer to Crosby Sts. It’s the inaugural event of the SoHo Broadway First Fridays program, which is run by the SoHo Broadway Initiative, in partnership with the Department of Transportation’s Weekend Walks program.

The closed-off blocks will have tables and chairs set up outside, along with cornhole and giant board games for people to play. There will also be al fresco dining from French restaurant La Mercerie, which is located along the two-block stretch at 53 Howard St.

Mark Dicus, executive director of the SoHo Broadway Initiative, which is a business improvement district, or BID, said the First Fridays program is a way to experiment with creating more walking space in the area.

“In a neighborhood that has limited pedestrian-oriented public space,” Dicus said, “the SoHo Broadway Initiative is exploring creative ways to meet this critical need and we are thrilled to be able to participate in the New York City Department of Transportation’s Weekend Walks program this fall.

Howard St. between Mercer St. and Broadway. (c/ourGoogle Maps)

“The goal of our First Fridays on Howard St. is to provide passive, car-free public outdoor space where residents, office and retail workers and visitors can relax and enjoy being outdoors,” he added. “We are providing tables with chairs and a few street games as we begin to rethink how existing sidewalks and streets might be used in ways that fit into this vibrant mixed-use community.”

6 Responses to Stretch of Soho will be pedestrian-only on Friday

  1. Doesn’t the SoHo BID know that DOT tried to institute a similar pedestrian mall on Prince Street on weekends about ten years ago?

    The community responded so vociferously against it that DOT had to cancel its plan.

    In response, DOT moved the concept to Times Square instead.

    Look what a zoo that area has since become, with gaggles of tourists and terrorist threats. SoHo was lucky to have dodged that bullet.

    Now the BID, which represents business and real estate interests, wants to bring this unwanted plan onto Howard Street.

    SoHo residents do not and have never wanted a mall that will only attract more tourists and crowds into our community. This scheme has no community support.

  2. I’m excited for this event which will take place only on two different Fridays (Sept. 6 and Oct. 4). I live about 6 blocks away and plan to stop by! The Weekend Walks program is really cool and allows the community to come together in new ways. Check out some pics from other Weekend Walks around the City here:
    The BID sought support from Community Board 2 for this event (many members of CB2 live in SoHo). The events garnered overwhelming support. Go and check it out!

    • According to Whitepages, you live a mile from here. If you like these kind of events, why not promote one on your block instead of on others?

      ” allows the community to come together “ Not true.

      This BID-sponsored event is meant to draw tourists and shoppers to a failing shopping strip.

      The SoHo community came together to CB2 ten years ago –– 150 of us – against a DOT proposed summer-long similar street closure of Prince Street. DOT wisely withdrew its proposal. This current event is only on two Fridays, as you state, on a quiet street with few cars. So community response was muted. Please do not mistake that acquiescence as acceptance.

  3. I live in this community and support any move towards a people first, car free city. Bring on more pedestrian spaces DOT, please!

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