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Flatiron Public Plazas Celebrate 10th Anniversary

They are respites at the heart of one of the most recognizable intersections in the nation--if not world--the Flatiron Public Plazas provide both a place to relax as well as opportunities to enjoy entertainment and other free activities.

Flanking the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street, the Flatiron Public Plazas have become town squares, where countless residents, employees in the neighborhood, and visitors from around the world converge each day. This September 5th marks the 10th anniversary since a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the foot of the famed Flatiron Building to make their official opening.

“When they first began, the plazas were an innovative solution to create a new space and bring pedestrian and vehicular safety improvements,” says Jennifer Brown, Executive Director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID), which manages the Flatiron Public Plazas. “But over time they have evolved into an oasis to relax amid the hustle and bustle of the city, and to enjoy one of the most dynamic panoramic views of New York City.”

The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) created the Flatiron Public Plazas in the summer of 2008, complete with the reconfiguration of traffic patterns. Though constructed of temporary materials, the project included adding crosswalks, a bike lane, and street furniture, and two years later, incorporated additional space into the Plazas, which stretch from 21st to 25th Streets.

“I am so pleased that over the last ten years, the Flatiron Plaza has been integrated into the landscape of the iconic Flatiron Building and become part of everyday life for New Yorkers,” said DOT Chief Operations Officer Margaret Forgione. “Public spaces provide pieces of tranquility within the concrete jungle, and bring along safety benefits for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the Flatiron BID for a decade of partnership in maintaining this vital plaza.”

Jennifer Brown says the project creates safer conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and creates a more enjoyable experience for the people who live or work in or visit the area. The BID provides cleaning, public safety, horticulture, and maintenance of plaza amenities, including 186 chairs, 86 tables, 148 planters, 8 benches, 28 granite blocks, 3 Bigbelly trash compacting/recycling units, and, during the warmer months, 21 shade umbrellas.

The BID also stations a Visitor Information Cart, providing maps and other useful pieces of BID collateral, on the North Plaza, and free public WiFi throughout the Plazas and adjacent corridors. And, the Plazas also feature two food and beverage kiosks.

Over the last decade, the Public Plazas have become venues for vibrant entertainment and other programs, sponsored by the BID. They are regularly part of the BID’s free weekly walking tours each Sunday, and also host free tech and fitness classes, games and performances as part of the BID’s eight week-long Summer Series program (which launched in 2012), and free winter holiday games, giveaways, and performances as part of the annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” program (which launched in 2012) every December.

And each winter holiday season, the BID unveils a dynamic public art installation to anchor the “23 Days” program; initially, the BID presented a giant holiday card—where visitors could snap photos with the card and Flatiron Building in the backdrop—and since 2014 has run the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, where designers’ winning interactive public art proposals anchor the celebration. The BID currently is working with Van Alen Institute and NYC DOT Art amid the fifth annual competition—and will unveil the 2018 winner this fall before an opening ceremony on November 19th.

“Every year, the Public Plazas are home to an array of activities and events, where people from near and far find community, creativity, and opportunity,” Jennifer Brown said. “Since their opening, the Plazas have hosted hundreds of events and community programs, along with multiple public art installations.”

And, just last year, Flatiron was proud to become the first location for the City’s new “Shared Street” program, on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets, as the City endeavored to improve pedestrian circulation and safety for all users. NYC’s first Shared Street features a redesigned intersection at 24th Street and Fifth Avenue, a reconfigured Citi Bike station layout, high-visibility crosswalks, a protected contra-flow bike lane, and 5 mile-per-hour speed limit giving pedestrians the right-of-way at all times.

Jennifer Brown looks forward to the Public Plazas becoming permanent. The City has held a public workshop and is exploring proposals to redesign the spaces and improve accessibility, seating, and lighting. The project will be managed by the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYC Department of Design and Construction in coordination with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the BID; the 37,000-square-foot area also includes Worth Square, which is managed by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Permanent reconstruction work on the Flatiron Public Plazas could then take several years.

Photo Credit: NYC DOT (art students enjoying the new plaza space)

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#ShopSmall this Saturday, Nov 24th to show support for Flatiron small businesses! ⬆️ LINK IN BIO for specials at these local spots + digital scavenger hunt details ❤️ . ▪️ @bbcnomadny15% off brunch/lunch ▪️ @thechurchillnycfree drink w/ entree until 4 pm ▪️ @flatironwinestasting + 15% featured wines ▪️ @ililiboxfree fries w/ sandwich or bowl ▪️ @litatradingbeads/jewelry discounts + gift ▪️ @svkfoodhall50% entrees until 5 pm ▪️ @sundays_studio20% services & products ▪️ @terrirestaurant10% menu items ▪️ @whisknycin-store prize giveaway ▪️ @wthn15% any boutique item . Be sure to mention “Flatiron Partnership”✨ #discoverflatiron
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