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Projects & Proposals > Manhattan > Small Sidewalk Cafes Printer Friendly Version
Small Sidewalk Cafes Proposal - Approved!
example of a sidewalk cafe on West Broadway

Sidewalk cafes add to the vitality of street life, and are considered by many to be neighborhood amenities.

During the spring, fall and summer months, these cafes allow visitors and residents alike to sit outside, enjoy a meal or snack, while taking in the sounds and sights of urban life. At the same time, these cafes add to the fabric of neighborhoods - something that is unique to cities and urban areas.

The Department of City Planning has reviewed the city’s policy towards sidewalk cafes in Manhattan. Currently, compared to other boroughs, there is a disproportionate number of streets and neighborhoods in Manhattan where sidewalk cafes are not permitted.

The Department examined these locations and is proposing to allow in some of these areas exclusively a new category of unenclosed sidewalk cafes - small sidewalk cafes. The Department believes that small sidewalk cafes with a single row of tables and chairs within 4 1/2 feet, would add character to the streetscape and vibrancy to neighborhoods.

See the PDF Document Small Sidewalk Cafe Proposal (2.3 mb) for more information on the proposed changes.

Proposed Design Guidelines for small sidewalk cafes
As stated above, small sidewalk cafes would consist of a single row of tables and chairs, which would occupy no more than 4-1/2 feet of the sidewalk width. Like other cafes, these cafes would be required to maintain a clear path for pedestrians of at least eight feet. Unlike other cafes, these unenclosed cafes would not be permitted to use barriers to physically separate the café space from the sidewalk. This would maintain visual continuity along the sidewalks and ensure that pedestrian circulation is not obstructed.
PDF Document View a larger graphic of the "potential layout".

PDF Document See the Streets map which shows where all sidewalk cafes were prohibited and permitted prior to approval of this zoning proposal. (map of Manhattan - 622 k)

PDF Document See the Adopted streets map. It indicates the streets where exclusively small sidewalk cafes are permitted under the approved amendment. (map of Manhattan - 624 k)


Public Review:
On March 24, 2004, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the revised zoning text amendment (PDF Document read the CPC Report). On May 5, 2004, the City Council adopted the sidewalk café text (N 040197 ZRY) with one modification, by prohibiting small sidewalk café along 42nd Street from Sixth Avenue to a point 275 feet east of Sixth Avenue, and along Sixth Avenue to a point 150 feet north of 42nd Street. PDF Document View adopted zoning text amendment.

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