The Open Streets program will resume this summer, with two South Bronx streets participating – Alexander Avenue from Bruckner Boulevard to East 134th Street and Willis Avenue from East 147th Street to 148th Street.
This summer, 156 streets across the city will participate in Open Streets, covering 300 blocks and 22 new locations. No new streets were added in the South Bronx, although two new streets were opened in the northern Bronx: Longfellow Avenue from Freeman Street to Jennings Street, and Kelly Street, from East 163rd St. to Intervale Avenue.
The Open Streets program, run by the Department of Transportation, closes select city streets to motor vehicles in an effort to promote “economic development, support schools, and provide new ways for New Yorkers to enjoy cultural programming and build community,” according to the transportation department’s website.
The program launched in April 2020 after merging with the department’s Public Space Programming Initiative. Open Streets typically are sponsored by local civic or business groups, and they are eligible for grants to assist with managing the streets and, sometimes, hosting free activities for city residents. The two South Bronx sites are sponsored by the Third Avenue Business Improvement District.
Alexander Avenue is lined with locally-run restaurants and cafes including Chocobar Cortés, Bar 47, and Bricks & Hops. Like the two previous years that the program operated on Alexander Avenue, Open Streets is expected to attract tourists to the area and bolster local business.
“It’s important we continue to expand the program to more communities in need, especially those with limited access to open space,” said Maulin Meta, director of the Regional Plan Association, an independent nonprofit planning organization.
The program has been generally well received across the city, but has gotten mixed reviews in sections of the Bronx because it can mean the loss of parking spaces, and interruption of traffic that sometimes requires diversion to already congested streets.
Most streets in the program are closed to traffic only part of the week – typically during weekend hours. Those who petition for an open street are responsible for overseeing its maintenance and signage.
Further information about the program, and a full list of Open Streets across the city, can be found here.