For people in cars, the Financial District is a slow-speed maze. For everyone else, it is one of the city’s most transit-rich destinations. Despite this, most of the street space in the area is devoted to cars.
The Financial District is an ideal candidate for pedestrianization, but while it has seen redesigns on a handful of streets, it has yet to see the large-scale creation of car-free space that has been studied and talked about for ages. Could introducing shared space to the mix help transform some of New York’s oldest streets into truly people-first places?
If not for the the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the Financial District would effectively be a large cul-de-sac — there is no reason for through traffic to use its local streets. The evil twins of West Street and the FDR Drive feed cars to the tunnel and ring off the neighborhood from the waterfront. But within the Financial District itself, most of the streets are narrow and have far more pedestrians than cars.
There are a few places in the Financial District where car-free streets have taken hold over the years. Too often, the goal has been not to create an open, accessible city, but to build a fortress against the threat of truck bombs.