The city of New York has just unveiled a green plan for the heart of the East Village that’s going to make the lives of pedestrians much safer. If you’ve ever been to the East Village, you’ve probably worried for your safety while trying to make your way across the perilous intersection of Astor Place and Cooper Square — a strange convergence of what seems like dozens of diagonally crossing streets. Luckily, the city is planning to lower the danger level and up the green credentials of this historic section of the city by creating a series of pedestrian walkways and plazas that will cut down on traffic and make the experience a little more harmonious for everyone.
Plans to rework this crazy part of the city have been floating around in community meetings for at least six years but were put on hold during the economic downturn. The city now says they are back on track to have the squares refurbished and have announced proposals from New York based architecture and design firm WXY Studios and New York based landscape architecture firm Quennell Rothschild & Partners. The designs call for the cutting of two huge parts of the street that are also notorious for being difficult for pedestrians to maneuver — the bit of Astor Place between Lafayette and Fourth Avenue and the bit of Bowery between Fifth Street and Astor — to cars.
The Bowery will be turned into an 8,000 square foot “Village Plaza” with a host of raised planting beds, trees and a large array of seating. The plan also calls for a winding strip of red pavement meant to simulate an old Native American pathway that once ran through this part of Manhattan. New Yorkers will be happy to know that the plans are being centered around “The Alamo” (the fun-to-play-with rotating black cube structure that has been the focal point of Astor Place for years). These urban design plans are a great way to make sure that people walking through this part of town will have time to stop and admire the amazing historical buildings and great new architecture — like the Cooper Union building — instead of running to avoid being hit by speeding taxis.