888 Seventh Avenue

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This popular plaza up several steps from the south side of West 57th Street between Seventh Avenue and Broadway is a good example of how renovation can improve the nature of a space. The plaza used to be narrow, dark, and depressing, with a worn brick surface and unappealing stuccolike west façade. Tall cylindrical planters clogged the middle, while an extraordinarily long wood bench next to sparse landscaping stretched from front to back. Use of the space was the exception rather than the rule. Now, the space is well-designed, well-appointed, and, not surprisingly, well-used. The clogging planters have been removed. Granite pavers have replaced brick, and low-rise granite walls define the edge. Manicured trees and shrubbery hide the western wall. An extraordinarily long, comfortable, green, wire-mesh bench has taken the place of the wood bench and added more seating at front and back. Granite planter ledges are also available for sitting. Stylish lighting fixtures abound, some attached to the columns of the adjacent, but not required, arcade. The activities of another public space directly south, at Carnegie Mews, are newly visible from the back. In short, this rejuvenated space is a healthy component of a generally reinvigorated West 57th Street. The other plaza space here consists of a slightly elevated terrace wrapping around the northwest corner of West 56th Street and Seventh Avenue, across from Carnegie Hall. The space features more stylish lighting, a double-level red awning, and planters. No seating is provided.

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

 

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