919 Third Avenue

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At 19,772 square feet, this plaza is one of the largest on the east side of Manhattan, although it would still require a 50 percent increase to match such midtown giants as 1251 Sixth Avenue and 1221 Sixth Avenue. Without the interruption caused by the two low-rise buildings at the northeast corner of East 55th Street and Third Avenue, the plaza would be configured in the ubiquitous U-shaped form, clamped onto the building’s street frontage along the east side of Third Avenue and the side streets of East 55th and 56th Streets. The presence of the two-story building at the corner suggests the possibility of a “holdout” scenario, where the low-rise owner may have declined to sell, or sell at the right price, to the 919 Third Avenue developer. In any event, the developer built next to it and surrounded it with public space.

The plaza has recently undergone a renovation. The bright white surface that contrasted smartly with the black glass of the office tower has been toned down with new material. On East 56th Street, a rectangular planter lines the sidewalk edge with ledges that are not sittable. At a recent site visit, the East 55th Street side was still under construction.

Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)
Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)

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3 User Submissions

  1. submitted by: S. Silverstein

    The space is actually really nice, though could stand to have some available seating. I often walk through it while in midtown, and cherish it as a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle

  2. submitted by: Nancy

    Why are they allowed to build “public spaces” without seating? My daughter works in the building here and I met up with her there, and I had been walking around the city and was tired – and had to stand while waiting because this bleak so-called public space allowed for no sitting – except on the ground!

    • submitted by: APOPS

      Hi Nancy. Thanks for your comment. As a 1970 plaza built under the undemanding rules of the original 1961 Zoning Resolution, seating was not a required amenity. That changed in the mid-1970s with zoning amendments that required, yes, seating, but the zoning change only applied to newly constructed buildings. Today, unless the owner wants to change the space, seating will unfortunately remain out of reach.