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Saturday Sets Meatpacking District
Photograph: Courtesy Iri Greco/BrakeThrough Media

The Meatpacking District is doing away with vehicle traffic permanently on these streets

The open street will make way for outdoor performances and exhibitions.

Shaye Weaver
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Shaye Weaver
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The Meatpacking District is set to become one of the most walkable neighborhoods in NYC.

After over a year of Open Streets, the Meatpacking Business Improvement District realized the benefits of closing streets to vehicle traffic and decided to make its Open Streets program a long-term neighborhood feature.

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After all, the Open Streets program made it possible for the Meatpacking District’s recent L.E.A.F. Flower Festival and outdoor performance series, The Seven Deadly Sins

"Following the city’s decision to make the Open Street program permanent, we see the Meatpacking District as an ideal location to promote and support changes to the public realm that emphasize pedestrians, promote foot traffic for businesses, support outdoor cafe culture, and allow for more cultural programming on our streets," said Jeffrey LeFrancois, the executive director of the BID. "The unique geography and built environment of the Meatpacking District lends itself to an organic pedestrianization of the streetscape and these planter barricades are a critical first step in the process of prioritizing pedestrians on our streets."

To get the ball rolling, the BID will place new, unique planter barricades throughout the neighborhood at both ends of Gansevoort Street, Little West 12th Street and West 13th Street between Ninth Ave and Washington Street, as well as the Ninth Avenue slip lane between West 14th Street and West 15th Street.

The barricades will be made in the shape of hexagons (referencing the angle that the Greenwich Village street grid meets the 1811 Commissioners’ Manhattan grid at Gansevoort Street) and will be made of Corten self-weathering steel, which develop a rust-colored patina as they age outside. According to the BID, the rust color is "evocative of the industrial nature of the district and its once blood-stained streets." They'll be filled with lush greenery—Sea Green Juniper, Dwarf Fothergilla, and Whorled Sage.

Even though the barriers are meant to keep traffic out (except for bicycles), they are going to be moveable so that emergency trucks can get through.

With these plans in place, the BID and ArtNoir announced a new immersive three-month, five-part program that features art and performance to engage neighbors and visitors in celebrating Black culture, called "From A Place, Of A Place."

From August 12 to October 28, the series will feature numerous art installations, live performances and community activities, including "Visions In Motion," a collection of storytellers, performers, and musicians at the nexus of contemporary Black culture as well as programming around young voices, live artist in residence art classes, workshops, a neighborhood tour and poetry performance with Urban Word, and a curated Guide to the Meatpacking District that will shine a light on Black voices and businesses in the neighborhood. You can find out more about these events here.

"The pandemic has highlighted the value of our public spaces, which have provided respite from our high-density urban living and become extensions of our living rooms. Flexible streetscapes are the future for spatially constrained urban environments in New York City. They provide the utility and function that supports modern living, and can transform to create experiences that encourage social connectivity and human interaction," said James Francisco, Senior Urban Designer at Arup. "New York City is undergoing a transformation and reclaiming its streets as places for people."

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