299 Park Avenue

The plaza more or less encircles this blockfront building on the east side of Park Avenue between East 48th and 49th Streets. The Park Avenue portion is a narrow, elevated terrace, with a small arcade protecting the front door. Extending from Park Avenue east along East 49th Street until it stops at a loading area is additional elevated terrace, but this area is wider and more usable than the Park Avenue terrace. Rows of fixed wooden benches are shielded from the street by a border of trees and receive significant use at lunchtime. The corollary space on East 48th Street does not have benches.

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

The through-block space at the back of the building presents itself as a driveway, with signs describing the area as “private” and chains and planters bolstering the message. According to past statements from the owner, the plaza here is used for parking by United States Secret Service personnel, perhaps when they are escorting government figures to and from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to the north across East 49th Street. At a recent site visit, a number of sports utility vehicles of unknown ownership were parked in the plaza. No record of City approval for any of these uses has been found.

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