Mayor Adams wants Fifth Avenue pedestrianized

Goodbye Cartier? Arrivederci, Gucci?

It could happen to Fifth Avenue if Mayor Adam’s bid to “reinvent” the Big Apple’s premier shopping street goes anywhere — along with a return of the bogus GOING OUT OF BUSINESS signs labeling the “World’s Greatest Shopping District” just a few decades long-damaged before. Did I also mention an Elmo infestation?

Despite a promised year-long study that will gather input from “stakeholders,” City Hall’s plan to “priority to pedestrians, cyclists, public transit, and the public space” amounts to one major mistake: banning cars on Fifth Avenue between Bryant Park and Central Park south.

The goal is achieved by installing “squares” as they helped bring a revitalized Times Square back to the brink of ruin.

The mayor, who is usually more common sense, believes in the awakened world’s pathological hatred of cars.

Fifth Avenue during this year's Open Streets.
Fifth Avenue during this year’s Open Streets.
GN Miller/NY Post

That America’s “car culture” is a manifestation of our society’s evil, earth-shattering ways has become an article of faith among elites who can afford hot-and-cold-water Ubers to steer their way through the traffic scares their policies create.

Fifth Avenue is very successful today. And yes, it’s congested as it should be during the Christmas shopping season. But it faces a miserable, DNA-altered future if Adams’ folly is allowed to become a reality.

Most pedestrian plazas cheapen everything around them, while at the same time providing a consequential place for thrifty tourists and vagrants.

The Cartier store on Fifth Avenue.
The Cartier store on Fifth Avenue.
Getty Images

To get a glimpse of the damage these tarmacs, known as oases, are doing, you don’t have to go any further than Times Square, where they gained a foothold in 2009. They are the underestimated root cause of the bowtie’s current decline.

Times Square faced challenges even before the pandemic. Stationary trade was hit by online shopping and company insolvencies.

Today, crime and a lack of international visitors have a lot to do with Times Square’s precarious state — but it started with the squares. Hailed by the deep thinkers of the Michael Bloomberg administration—and even by some shopkeepers—as a humane tool for taming vehicle and crowd crowds, they ended up having the inevitable, opposite effect.

The plazas still enjoy the cheers of the bike-riding, car-hating peanut galleries to this day. In politically correct echo chambers, they are inadmissible to question, regardless of their obviously destructive effect.

Tourists flock to Times Square on a busy August day.
A man stands around in Times Square.
Stephen Yang
Times Square has been overrun with “Desnudas” above and predatory cartoon characters.
Stephen Yang

But after the iconic Toys ‘R Us between West 44th and 45th Streets closed in 2014, Bowtie’s plazas were overrun with “desnudas,” predatory cartoon characters and Big Mac snatchers. The seedy setting is certainly one reason the landlord hasn’t completely filled the space once occupied by the world’s tallest indoor Ferris wheel.

Gap and Old Navy stand next to an empty storefront and a large “NY Gifts” store selling t-shirts and other tacky goods – an eyesore at the heart of the action.

The former location of Forever 21 on 42nd Street (which has since moved two blocks north) is now occupied by JD Sports, a “sportswear” chain that mainly sells sneakers – marking a return to the retail mix of the bad ol’ days Neighborhood touts “fast food and fast feet.” Taco Bells and other grab-and-go spots are slowly but surely replacing actual stores.

Ray-Ban and Oakley closed. Several others, including American Eagle Outfitters, are said to be on their way out after their leases expire.

Jorge, an immigrant from Mexico, dressed as Elmo from Sesame Street, rests in Times Square in New York July 29, 2014.
Costumed characters like Elmo are a part of Times Square.

The squares also wreaked havoc on Broadway north of Times Square. Caroline’s on Broadway will close after December 31, due in part to abysmal road conditions caused by a junkie-infested “square” on its doorstep. Most blocks between West 49th and 57th Streets have almost as many empty storefronts as occupied ones.

Adams might think that the likes of Bergdorf Goodman and Versace can shrug off all the bad effects of Plazas. Maybe the customers come by helicopter?

But he needs to get out of the clubs and spend time at the “Crossroads of the World” before dooming Fifth Avenue to the same fate. Mayor Adams wants Fifth Avenue pedestrianized


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