Several Manhattan politicians are urging Mayor Adams to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by restricting car traffic around Rockefeller Center for the busy holiday season.
For two years, near the end of former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s term in office, two blocks across town next to the famous Midtown tourist attraction were closed to cars to encourage pedestrian safety.
But with the holiday season fast approaching, Adams has yet to commit to the same road closures.
“It’s quite late in the season. We were hoping to know for sure now,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine told The Post.
“The crowd is just huge. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America and frankly it’s unsafe for tourists to be pushed off the sidewalk and into traffic.”
De Blasio introduced the seasonal pedestrian mall of 49th Street and 59th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in 2019 and reclosed the two streets in 2021.
Levine and Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan) said they had received no responses from the city after sending a Nov. 1 letter asking for the road closures to return.
“The holiday season is upon us very soon,” said Powers, who added that there was “no sign” that the Adams government would shut down the roads again this year.
Approximately 800,000 people visit Rockefeller Center Plaza and the surrounding area each holiday season, according to Levine and Powers’ letter.
“It’s the most wonderful time of year, unless you’re a person who walks down the street in crowds near Rockefeller Center,” Powers said. “The crowds are overwhelming and the demand is overcrowded.”
De Blasio only partially closed the road — Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to midnight and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight, from Black Friday through Jan. 6.
The 2019 closures were strongly opposed at the time by the FDNY’s top union, whose leader warned that the two-block closures would result in a “citywide river-to-river gridlock.”
In recent years, the city has dramatically expanded both seasonal and temporarily car-free streets, including long-distance blocks in Brooklyn and Queens. Powers said he would like to see Adams make the Rockefeller closures permanent as well.
“We’ve seen in the past that the area is only completely overstretched during holiday periods, but so is the demand for this space in general,” he said.
Asked for comment, an NYPD spokesman said the department will be “meeting with the DOT in the coming week to discuss final preparations for the holiday season.”
“DOT is working with its agency partners on plans to expand the pedestrian mall around Rockefeller Center for this holiday season,” said DOT spokesman Vin Barone.
https://nypost.com/2022/11/10/nyc-pols-push-eric-adams-for-rockefeller-center-holiday-street-closures/ NYC Politicians Urge Eric Adams to Close Holiday Streets in Rockefeller Center