Press Releases

For Immediate Release
June 15, 2021

Melissa Grace, Joe Marvilli – (212) 720-3471

Recovery for All: NYC’s “POPS” to Reopen within the City by July 1, 2021

As New York City continues its recovery from the pandemic, these privately owned public spaces will once again be available

NEW YORK – Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago today announced that all of New York City’s Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) must reopen to the public as of July 1. To stop the spread of COVID-19, and by Executive Order, owners of indoor POPS, such as atriums and covered pedestrian spaces, were permitted to temporarily close their spaces last spring. With vaccines readily available to the public for free and the city’s positive COVID rate reaching record lows, these spaces will once again be required to be open.

“Remember POPS? As we recover from the pandemic and start to see New York City’s famed street life return, POPS are again offering spaces for the public to relax. We hope that all New Yorkers will take advantage of these gracious open spaces – and find a renewed joy in our city’s reopening,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago.

“Privately-operated public spaces (or POPS) provide an important amenity for residents and visitors in our dense city and I'm glad to hear they will now be re-opened after temporarily closing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This is the next step in fully re-opening the greatest city in the world.”

“Privately Owned Public Spaces are such an important part of our city’s streetscape and offer a much-needed retreat from the hustle and bustle of New York City,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “The COVID-19 pandemic further underscores the central role public spaces play in enhancing community and improving quality of life. Reopening POPS will allow New Yorkers to gather safely in some of the busiest areas of the city.”

“POPS are back baby! New York City is just about ready to reopen thanks to vaccines and residents following the rules,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “As this last year has shown us, open outdoor space is a must-have, and I’m so glad to hear New York City's POPS are opening again soon and people will be able to take advantage of them once again. I encourage New Yorkers and tourists alike to find them and use the amenities.”

“Privately owned public spaces have long provided a respite for workers and visitors alike in some of the densest areas of New York; now, as we work to reopen the city, they are essential to the recovery and revitalization of these same neighborhoods. We applaud this decision, which returns to public use some of the most valuable pockets of open space in the city,” Elizabeth Goldstein, President, The Municipal Art Society of New York.

“It’s fantastic to have all 600 or so POPS returned to full operation for public use. Indoor privately owned public spaces in particular provide a welcome respite from summer heat. It’s yet another sign that New York City is back,” said Jerold Kayden, the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University and President of Advocates for Privately Owned Public Space.

To continue to support social distancing practices, owners or managers of indoor POPS may reconfigure or modify certain required amenities, in compliance with DCP’s protocols for POPS, to ensure safe distance is provided between users or groups. For more information, please visit DCP’s Compliance Protocols website.

POPS are public spaces that are owned and maintained by private property owners pursuant to various zoning regulations at no cost to the City. First introduced in the 1960s, the nearly 600 POPS that exist today provide opportunities to partake in and enjoy urban life. Coming in all shapes and sizes, these spaces are aimed at ensuring that the busiest areas of New York City offer indoor and outdoor atriums, plazas and walkways to the public. The POPS program has produced nearly 3.8 million square feet of additional public space in the City – equivalent to roughly 66 football fields or 13 Union Squares.

Towards the end of 2019, the City Council approved new zoning rules allowing moveable seating and tables in many of New York City’s older POPS, where they were previously not permitted, making these spaces even more inviting to the public.

More information on POPS, as well as the history of the program and links to locate POPS in New York City, can be found on DCP’s website.