Pedestrians

Street Seats

Warren & Smith Streets, Brooklyn

Street Seats offer well-designed seasonal, outdoor public open spaces and seating at places where sidewalk seating is not available. During warm-weather months, when the demand to spend time outdoors increases, Street Seats may temporarily replace a few parking spots with neighborhood gathering places perfect for eating, reading, working, meeting a friend, or taking a rest. They also help beautify the streetscape with attractive landscaping. Watch out a time-lapse video of a day in the life of a street seat Download an evaluation of the 2011 pilot of curbside seating (pdf)

Street Seats are designed, installed and maintained by the adjacent sponsoring business. The seating is open to the public, not restricted to patrons of any particular establishment. Waiter service or commercial activity at the tables is strictly prohibited, as is smoking and alcohol consumption.

Siting

Street Seats are not appropriate for every street. The adjoining sidewalk must be free of major obstructions and fire hydrants, driveways, or bus stops. The Technical Criteria contain a complete list of siting restrictions.

Design

Pearl Street, Manhattan

Street Seats are attractive installations to beautify and enhance neighborhood streets and provide an amenity to support walking and street life. All installations must include plantings that screen the seating area from traffic while still providing visual permeability across the street and a continuous open edge along the curb. The installations must maintain roadway drainage, allow for wheelchair access, and also allow for access to any below-ground utilities. They must be designed by a New York State-certified architect or engineer and installed by a licensed contractor. DOT may add operational enhancements to the site, such as parking stops, striping on the parking lane, and/or temporary plastic bollards. For more information, read the complete design guidelines, including schematic assembly drawings of a typical platform and some sample conceptual designs.

Operation

Street Seats are temporary installations that are only in place during the warm months. At the end of season, the sponsoring businesses must remove and store the installation. During the months of operation, the installation and surrounding area must be routinely cleaned and maintained by the sponsoring business. Furnishings must be removed or broken down and locked up at night and then put out again each morning. Seating areas may not be operated later than the business itself is open nor later than sidewalk cafés (midnight on Sunday–Thursday; 1 am on Friday and Saturday). The sponsoring business may not take orders nor exchange money in the Street Seat. However, if patrons order products inside the business, they may be brought out to them at a table. All Street seats are open to the public and smoking and alcohol consumption are not permitted, as will be indicated by signage provided by DOT. Street sweeping by the Department of Sanitation can proceed as normal along the curb in front of and beyond the installation. Garbage collection occurs at curb area at the nearest end of the installation.

Eligibility

East 44th Street, Manhattan

Any type of business or institution that owns or operates frontage at the ground floor of a building may be eligible to install a Street Seat. All applications for Street Seats require support from the property owner and the local community board before they will be considered. No fee is charged for these installations. Read complete instructions on how to apply.

Technical Criteria

All potential Street Seats sites are expected to be both safe and practical. Applications that DOT receives will be reviewed to confirm that they meet the below technical criteria. DOT reserves the right to reject any application for a Street Seat for any reason.

  • The street characteristics must be deemed suitable for such installations by DOT. Typically this means it will be one-way and have no more than one lane of moving vehicle traffic. Sites close to intersections or driveways or where turns or lane changes occur could be rejected due to safety concerns.
  • The lane along the curb cannot be a moving lane of traffic at any time of day.
  • The parking regulations at the curb must be suitable for the installation. Examples of unsuitable regulations include bus stops, fire zones, authorized vehicle parking, or no stopping zones.
  • The site must not have elements obstructing use of the platform or that require regular access such as fire hydrants, driveways or newsstands. Certain types of underground utilities may not be suitable locations for Street Seats.

Design Guidelines

Sullivan Street, Manhattan

The following guidelines are to be used in the design of Street Seat platform structures.

  • The platform should be as flush with the sidewalk as possible. A minimum of 12 feet of the platform must be flush with the sidewalk to provide wheelchair access.
  • Curbside drainage must not be impeded.
  • The platform must allow for easy access to the space underneath.
  • The platform must be able to bear at least 750 pounds per square foot.
  • The platform must be publicly accessible and signed as such.
  • Each platform should have some vertical elements (e.g. planters, umbrellas) so that it is visible from vehicles.
  • Each platform should be finished with quality materials, preferably using recycled or sustainably harvested products.
  • The platform must include plantings.
  • The platform must include a continuous physical barrier along the street-facing perimeter while maintaining clear visual sightlines to the street.
  • The sidewalk-facing side of the platform should be open to pedestrians.
  • The platform must not be wider than 6 feet, in order to be narrower than surrounding parked cars.
  • The maximum length of the platform may not be longer than the frontage of the applicant's business.
  • DOT will assess each site and will determine necessary traffic safety improvements, including but not limited to, traffic markings, flexible bollards, and wheel stops.
  • DOT has provided example drawings to assist applicants with their designs.

Applying

Before submitting an application to DOT, a sponsoring business must first get the support of their property owner and local Community Board. It is recommended that the sponsoring business seek the support of neighboring businesses and/or residents in the forms of letters and petitions prior to presenting at their Community Board. A support letter from the Community Board must be included with the application. Download the application to install Street Seats

The completed application, along with a letter of support, should be submitted to streetseats@dot.nyc.gov. After that, the application process proceeds as follows:

  1. DOT will review the site for technical feasibility. If the site is deemed appropriate, DOT will issue a notice of preliminary approval.
  2. After preliminary approval, the sponsoring business must submit professionally-certified design plans. DOT will review the drawings for design quality and conformity with the Design Guidelines.
  3. After design plans are approved, the sponsoring business must submit to DOT a signed copy of the annual authorization agreement.
  4. Prior to construction, DOT will install parking regulation signage, parking stops, bollards, or other enhancements to ready site for the platform.
  5. A certified contractor retained by the sponsoring business installs the Street Seat on or after April 15.