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September 1, 2017

Making Neighborhood Connections

New York City is always on the move: new businesses are opening; new buildings rising; and the population growing. Rebuilding sidewalks, streets, and other public spaces is vital, allowing more people to get from one point to another whether it’s by foot or bike. DDC works with City agencies and design partners with those challenges in mind, whether it’s transforming a busy intersection in Astor Place by bringing 42,000 feet of new pedestrian space or rebuilding the street in one of New York City’s busiest neighborhoods.

These transformations affect communities in meaningful ways. Plazas and other public spaces accommodate a multitude of community building events in a way that inspires idea sharing and collaboration as well as cultural exchange. Step streets and pedestrian bridges ease commute time and connect residents to different areas around them. They bolster neighborhood pride; create safer spaces; and allow more ways for people to (re)discover the City.


Here are more examples of completed DDC projects:

Times Square

Times Square

In late December 2016, just in time for New Year’s festivities and celebrations, the City announced the completion of the reconstruction of Times Square. The project, which DDC completed in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), converted 85,000 square feet of space – almost two full acres – previously used by vehicular traffic into five pedestrian plazas, located between West 42nd and West 47th streets on Broadway.

Times Square is known as the “Crossroads of the World” for a reason. Thousands of tourists, residents, and commuters pass by those busy streets every single day. The necessary upgrades improved pedestrian mobility, accessibility, as well as safety. They included wider sidewalks; benches; rebuilt curbs, streets and sidewalks; modern street and traffic lighting; and a southbound raised bike lane on 7th Avenue. As a result, more people are able to take in the sights, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the City than ever before.


High Bridge

In 2015, DDC, in partnership with New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, completed the restoration of High Bridge, which connects the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan and the High Bridge neighborhood in the Bronx. It is the oldest surviving bridge in New York City, first constructed in 1839 and then placed into service in 1848 as part of the Croton Aqueduct that supplied the City with water. It now serves as the only interborough bridge designed for pedestrians and bicyclists alike, providing both Manhattan and the Bronx with access to more than 125 acres of green space, with baseball fields and basketball courts.

The improved design allows pedestrians to enjoy new features, including a hand-restored brick walkway, new safety railings, barrier-free access, new architectural lighting, and a renovated steel and masonry structure. It encourages residents to be active and explore new neighborhoods as well.


West 215th Street Step Street

In 2016, DDC, in partnership with DOT, completed the reconstruction of the West 215th Street Step Street in Inwood. First built in 1915, the Step Street continues to serve as a vital pedestrian corridor between Park Terrace East and Broadway. It expedites travel, connecting pedestrians with local businesses as well as the subway, and encourages exercise.

The reconstruction effort took input from the community and keeps the City’s commitment to design quality. Some of the upgrades included added handrails, guardrails, and wider steps for safety; bike channels so that cyclists can pass through this route without worrying about carrying their bikes; and improved drainage, with the addition of two drainage channels and more stormwater collection points. Read more about the upgrades here.


Here are some projects DDC is currently working on:

West 229th Street Step Street

On June 28, 2017, DDC along with DOT broke ground on reconstruction of the West 229th Street Step Street. The step street connects Heath Avenue at its lowest point to Kingsbridge Terrace at its highest in the hilly terrain of the western Bronx. Reconstructing this particular step street is crucial: it’s frequently used by residents to access important bus routes, as well as P.S. 360 and the Kingsbridge Community Center.

New bicycle channels will be included on both sides of the new stairs for people to more easily walk bikes up and down. To further improve pedestrian safety, sidewalks will be widened at the crosswalks at Kingsbridge Terrace and at Heath Avenue. Temporary wooden stairs will allow pedestrian access to be maintained throughout the project. 

Click here to read more about the upgrades.


Diversity Plaza

On July 21, 2017, the City broke ground on the reconstruction of Diversity Plaza at Broadway and 37th Road in Queens, one of the borough’s busiest hubs. The new plaza will encompass two blocks and a large traffic island near the busy Roosevelt Avenue subway station, increasing pedestrian space, calming traffic and beautifying an area where residents frequently congregate. The two-block stretch, which was converted into pedestrian space in 2012, will feature new trees, raised planters, bike racks, moveable furniture, wayfinding signage as well as open space for performances.

Click here to read more about the changes coming to Diversity Plaza.


Further reading:

DDC Feature: How Can Design Help New York City Get Healthy?


Learn More