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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Chronicles of Stolen Space - Pedestrianized Pine Street

This is a designated pedestrian street in Lower Manhattan

The quality of our public spaces in New York City is so much worse than they should be. By all appearances, this is due to a negligent municipal government that has failed to shoulder its responsibilities to safeguard these spaces for public use.

Take for example the case of a pedestrianized block of Pine Street between South and Front Streets. This street was pedestrianized in 1978, yet in recent memory, it has increasingly been used for car parking. It seems that the permission for "service vehicles," clearly intended originally to allow for garbage pickup, provided a foothold for parcel services to use the street for their parking needs. Gradually, others followed suit until the whole space has now become filled with cars.

Given the parking pattern, it appears somebody in the adjoining building is in some way managing the use of these "free" parking spaces stolen from New York's pedestrians. It is unclear how exactly the word has gotten around and how this scheme is keeping unwanted other cars out of "their" space, but one thing is clear: the only way a public street dedicated to the use of pedestrians ends up as a free parking lot for personal cars is if the authorities choose to look the other way and stop providing any official enforcement.

Public space is not just the area that is left over from development. It is created through collective action, and when our collective institutions stop working to protect the space, it will cease to be public.

In 1978, Pine Street was limited to emergency and service vehicles

Pine Street is identified as a "Pedestrian Street" on the City Map

With a neglectful city, Pine Street is an unsightly parking lot for the personal cars of people with obscure connections

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