NYC Delays Fifth Avenue Revamp Again

The long-awaited transformation would begin until 2022

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Photo: NYC DOT

There are only two times in my life that I can remember being on Fifth Avenue and there was absolutely no traffic. The first time was when I got to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a boy scout. The second time was in the dead of night at around 2 a.m. There were literally no vehicles on Fifth Ave. except for MTA buses. This experience was not far off the original plan for a complete transformation for one of New York City’s iconic streets. However, the NYC Department of Transportation has delayed the current plan until “after the holidays” as reported by Streetsblog.

The original plan would have eliminated private vehicle traffic from a significant stretch of the one-way Fifth Avenue. Heading south, the closed portion would have begun at 57th Street near the Plaza Hotel and southern end of Central Park, ending at 34th Street and the Empire State Building. The street would have been dedicated for public buses, emergency vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians as it passed some of Midtown’s most notable locations, such as Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick Cathedral and the New York Public Library.

This plan has been heavily opposed by all of the luxury retailers along Fifth Avenue like Tiffany and Co, Prada, Cartier and Hermès. The businesses strongly feel that customers need to be able to drive to their storefronts, despite there being no parking. NYC DOT have made amendments to the plans to put concerns to rest. Two lanes of the five-lane avenue will initially remain available for private vehicles, primarily to allow customer drop-off/pick-up. Despite these changes, their retailers are staunchly against any changes at all.


The delay of the changes until after the holiday season have led many to claim victory over “madness,” including the New York Post. Over the years, the Post has continually claimed the proposals would cripple businesses and make Fifth Avenue more dangerous. Realistically, it would be better for all the businesses in the area if people wanted to actually spend time on Fifth Avenue. Not simply arrive at the specific store and then go home. Unless you enjoy sitting in traffic or shopping within the deafening levels of sound that traffic brings, Fifth Avenue is not suitable for purpose.