NEW YORK— As visitors return to Manhattan this holiday season, Mayor de Blasio, theDepartment of Transportation (DOT), and New York City Police Department (NYPD) today announced the return of temporarily expanded pedestrian space on the streets around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. With crowds this year expected to be the largest since the start of the pandemic, the Mayor and City officials strongly encourage New Yorkers to use public transportation.
“No place on earth is more magical than midtown during the holidays, and New Yorkers and visitors alike will get to enjoy the neighborhood with more pedestrian space than ever,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Public transit is the best way to get to the neighborhood, and these pedestrianized streets will create a safe, spacious, and welcoming environment for everyone who enjoys the holiday season.”
“Traffic safety and security are paramount all year round in New York City, and particularly as the winter holidays approach,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster. “This year, as in years past, our NYPD officers will be working around the clock along with our government partners to ensure a safe and fun holiday season for all who wish to visit the sights and stroll in Midtown Manhattan with their friends and loved ones.”
“We expect that as New York City continues to recover from the pandemic, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will once again be a major destination for New Yorkers and of course for the tourists once again flocking to our city,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Creating more space for pedestrians around Rockefeller Center will keep people safe while ensuring minimal disruption to the rest of the life of the city. New Yorkers can of course do their part by avoiding unnecessary driving in Midtown during the holiday season.”
Starting Friday, the City will pedestrianize the streets surrounding Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, using movable barriers to institute full or partial street closures to alleviate swelling foot traffic along sidewalks. Changes include:
- Pedestrian-Only Side Streets: 49th and 50th Streets between 5th and 6th Avenues will be open only to pedestrians during the most congested hours.
- The City will close these streets to vehicle traffic between 11 a.m. and midnight daily.
- Stricter crowd-control protocols are expected to be in place for the tree-lighting scheduled for Wednesday, December 1st.
- 5th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of 5th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue to create more pedestrian space. Additionally, there will be no turns allowed onto 47th, 49th, or 51st Streets.
- 6th Avenue: Movable barriers will be placed on the east side of 6th Avenue between 48th and 52nd Streets, eliminating one lane of traffic to create more pedestrian space.
- Buses: MTA buses will bypass all stops between 48th to 52nd Streets, and all crosstown buses will be re-routed around Rockefeller Center during pedestrian-only hours.
NYPD will conduct round-the-clock monitoring of the area to adjust the barriers if needed during times of unusual pedestrian activity or extreme weather. Closing streets to vehicle traffic will protect pedestrians while ensuring minimal disruptions to transit and police operations, allowing the City to permit the flow of many morning commuters while protecting pedestrians at peak times.
“Today I am thankful that we will have an expanded pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center for the holiday season,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I am excited to light the tree and close the streets to cars! The pandemic has shown the benefits that streets oriented around pedestrians and not cars bring to New Yorkers. Expanding pedestrian space to allow New Yorkers and tourists to finally return to this beloved holiday experience is the perfect way to welcome visitors back to our City as it continues to reopen. Thank you to Councilmember Powers and the Mayor for working with me to get this done.”
“The Rockefeller Center pedestrianization pilot was a major success in 2019,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “I am glad that it is being brought back this year, with much holiday cheer, while we are still recovering from the pandemic and making efforts to continue to stay safe. Thank you Borough President Brewer and Mayor de Blasio for your partnership.”