330 East 39th Street

An asphalt-paved, semicircular drop-off driveway flanked by trees and planters covers a small part of the plaza in front of the residential entrance on the south side of East 39th Street between First and Second Avenues, but the bulk of the space is located behind the building. On East 38th Street east of the Midtown Tunnel Access Road, the entrance at street level is celebrated by a small, beige-brick and white-granite fountain suggestive of the Italian Renaissance by its design and decaying façade. When it is working, the fountain emits water from the sculptural face of a lion into a basin surrounded by a curving white granite ledge.

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

The decorative fountain heightens user anticipation for the space beyond. Curving stairs to the left and right of the fountain ascend six steps and converge in front of a metal gate posted with a sign informing the user, “Courtyard open from 10 A.M. – 7 P.M. daily. No dogs allowed. Thank you.” At a recent site visit, the gate was locked at 4:00 p.m. No record of City approval has been found to support the installation of gates or the imposition of restricted hours of access. Past the gate and up another six steps is a large, open, concrete courtyard bordered by a variety of buildings. Interesting city vistas emerge between buildings, and the space does receive sunlight, but there is little to do here. A rectangular water pool with sculpture and unsittable slanted ledge occupies the middle.

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4 User Submissions

  1. submitted by: rob nearby

    they used to have benches but they took them away.

    • submitted by: APOPS

      Thank you for the information. We will look into this and post a comment when we know more about it.

  2. submitted by: Noelle Meyers-Powell

    The POPs (330 East 39th Street) area located at the tunnel entrance of the building can benefit from a redesign in its only entrance/exit as well as its main spatial area. The entrance is difficult to find and additionally, the fountain structure in the front of the staircase creates a barrier between the space and the street life. Most people passing by do not realize that they can access the space nor can they visually see it. Perhaps, if the fountain and shrubbery were removed, the entrance widened a bit, and the two staircases became one large set of low steps, the space could become visible from the sidewalk and the new set of steps could also serve as a place to sit. Furthermore, a retractable gate could be added to uphold the hours of operation, indicated by the space’s rules and regulations, but also allow for the space to appear inviting and open to the public. In regards to the main spatial area, there are not many seating options, the space is bare (open space and blank walls) and is only inhabited with materials from the neighboring construction workers as well as an unused rectangular water pool/ plant holder. The space could be a setting for an addition of moveable chairs and tables that could be stored along the back wall of the building. To add more seating, the rectangular water pool could be converted into a large planter with a wraparound table (wooden) that could provide additional space for the public to sit, eat, or spend time in the space. The moveable chairs can be used again to provide seating at this wraparound table. The space also possesses a tall blank wall space adjacent to the water pool. On the bottom portion of the space, a long bench (wooden) could be furnished to run along the wall. Above the bench, planters could be placed to echo the larger rectangular planting holder and the remaining portion of the wall could host a mural to add color to the overall grey space. To open up the space further, the lamp posts located in the front of the stairs and the other near the back wall can be removed. Lastly, the addition of trash and recycling receptacles could be added to manage any waste (see attached sketches).

  3. submitted by: Noelle Meyers-Powell

    Problem 1: Construction workers store their excess supplies, in the space, creating an appearance that it is a construction site and not open to the public ( see photo).

    Problem 2: The sidewalk adjacent to the space is non existent and the one across the street is very narrow for pedestrians to accommodate for automobile traffic ( see photo).