The quickest way by car to Harlem in rush hour from, say, 18th Street in Manhattan, used to be straight up the gut on Sixth Avenue, before you entered Central Park’s Center Drive, which eventually dumped you onto Malcolm X Boulevard. That route, though, was partially banned a few years ago, and, soon will be banned completely.
The ban was announced on Friday by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. It will go into effect on June 27, roughly coinciding with the last day of of school and the day the city’s public pools open for the summer.
The ban is an extension of a 2015 ban, which stopped cars from driving in the park above 72nd Street. De Blasio’s announcement on Friday covers the remaining portion of the park, which stretches from 59th Street to 110th Street.
What’s the practical effect here, aside from not having to worry about getting run over on an easy Sunday walking through Manhattan’s most centrally-located park? Traffic-wise, probably not much, since the reason traffic is so bad in New York isn’t because a road here or there is closed. It’s because of the steep rise of Uber, Lyft, and other taxi services.
Also, importantly, the roads that traverse the park from east to west at 65th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, and 96th streets will still allow cars, probably forever. Driving in the park proper, though, just kind of aged out.