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Photograph: Courtesy of SL Green

This area outside Grand Central will now be permanently closed to traffic

Howard Halle

For the past ten years or so, pedestrian malls have been popping up all over NYC, from Times Square and the Garment District to downtown Brooklyn and Jackson Heights in Queens. Besides street furnishings that allow you to sit and eat lunch outdoors, these plazas often host public art sculptures and installations, as well as performances (though we’re not sure Times Square Elmos would count). Now, another such civic amenity is being planned for Grand Central.

Photograph: Courtesy of SL Green

The project comes courtesy of One Vanderbilt, the latest in a series of new super tall towers taking shape on NYC’s skyline. The building is the first skyscraper rising under a change in zoning laws for Midtown East enacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The proposal is meant to revitalize an area known for older, iconic structures like the Chrysler Building, bringing it in line with the needs of business in the 21st century.

Photograph: Courtesy of SL Green

At 1,301 feet, One Vanderbilt will loom over Bryant Park and would top One World Trade Center if you subtracted the WTC’s spire. In order to build to that height, its developers had to promise to pay for infrastructure upgrades in and around Grand Central. These include putting $220 million towards transit improvements such as refurbishing the subway mezzanine level at Grand Central, and creating new platform exits for the 4/5/6 trains. The new plaza itself is part of the design to tie together tower and station, and you can expect to start enjoying it this summer when construction is completed.


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