Field Notes: Greeley Square – New York City, New York

Isaac Kremer/ January 20, 2019/ Field Notes, Physical, placemaking, plaza/ 0 comments

Celebrated editor and political leader Horace Greeley (1811-1872) launched the New York Tribune in 1841. From its pages, he had an enormous influence on American popular opinion. Greeley’s famous advice, “Go West, young man, go West,” inspired generations of Americans to seek their fortunes on the new frontier. He advocated protectionism, abolition of slavery, labors rights, and political reform. Greeley ran for President against Ulysses S. Grant in 1872.

This triangular park in the heart of the old newspaper and printing district was named in Greeley’s honor. The City of New York acquired the site in 1846 in connection with the opening of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway). The bronze monument of Greeley by sculptor Alexander Doyle was dedicated in 1890.

The park was reconstructed in 1940 when Fiorella H. LaGuardia was Mayor and Robert Moses, Commissioner of the Department of Parks. The park was reconstructed again in 1999. and is today funded and managed by the 34th Street Partnership.

Herald and Greeley Squares: Then and Now

A side by side comparison of Greeley Square during and after construction

 Herald and Greeley Squares have long been major destinations for commuters, tourists, and shoppers. Starting in 1998 with improvements to the parks, the 34th Street Partnership started making improvements to the area to meet the pedestrian demand. 

A photo of Herald and Greeley Squares in 2000, which shows much more allocated road space than is there today

 Adding much needed circulation space in interim materials, the DOT piloted a program to expand pedestrian space around the parks and adjacent sidewalks in 2000. 

A photo of Herlad Square in 2009. There are many pedestrians with tables and chairs in the newly created public space.

 In 2009, as part of the Green Light for Midtown pilot project, DOT created plazas with interim materials adding both circulation space and programmable space. The pedestrians plazas at Herald and Greeley Squares have been hugely successful.

An image of Herald and Greeley Squares circa 2010. A green circle in the top center reads January 2010 Green Light for Midtown Evaluation Report.

  In January 2010, NYC DOT released an evaluation report for the Green light for Midtown Evaluation Report.   

Between the years 2006-2009, 267 crashes were reported. Between the years of 2009-2012, with the implementation of the plazas, crashes decreased by 51%.

What they found was that the creation of the plazas in 2009 significantly improved safety in the area. Between the years 2006-2009, 267 crashes were reported. Between the years of 2009-2012, crashes decreased by 51%.

A map of various DOT projects in the neighborhood since 2009.

Even after 2009, NYC DOT has returned to the neighborhood in a number of instances with additional bike connections, public space enhancements, and SBS routes.

Starting in October 2018 public input was sought for future improvements to Greeley Square.

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Back in May and October of 2018, the NYC DOT Street Ambassadors collected 98 surveys at Herald and Greeley. A similar survey was available online here on our portal. Last week, our survey was officially closed to new responses and the result are in.

Three graphs accompanied by a birds eye view photo of Herald Plaza during the summer. The first graph titled "What is your relationship to the neighborhood?" has 5 horizontal bars. The first reads "46% Work", the second reads "20% Shop", the third read "16% Live", the fourth reads "5% Other", and the last reads "4% Study".The graph titled "How often do you come to the plaza" has 5 bars. First reads "32% Daily, second reads "32% Several times a week". third reads "22% Several times a month". fourth reads "11% Less often", and fifth reads "3% First visit". The last graph titled "Did you plan to visit the plaza today" has four bars. First reads "51% Yes, I planned to come to the plaza today", second reads "30% I happened to pass by, third reads "15% yes, on my way someplace else", and fourth reads "4% Yes, as part of my daily commute".
There are two graphs accompanying an action photo of a Street Ambassador surveying a local. The first graph titled "What could be improved regarding the bike connections?" shows three horizontal bars. The top bar reads "28% Additional Buffers", the middle bar reads "28% Markings", and the bottom bar reads "27% Alignment through pedestrian areas". The second graph titled "What could be improved in the Herald Square & Greeley Square area?" and has four bars underneath. The top bar reads "19% More public space", the second bar reads "16% More seating options", the third bar reads "15% more space for circulation", and the last bottom bar reads "15% Cleanliness".

Soon the next generation of enhancements to this space will begin.

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About Isaac Kremer

A nationally recognized downtown revitalization leader, downtowns Isaac managed achieved $350 million of investment, 1,300 jobs created, and were 2X Great American Main Street Award Semifinalist and a 1X GAMSA winner in 2023. His work has been featured in Newsday, NJBIZ, ROI-NJ, TapInto, and USA Today. Isaac is a Main Street America Revitalization Professional (MSARP) with additional certifications from the National Parks Service, Project for Public Spaces, and the National Development Council.

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