41 Madison Avenue

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The plaza on the east side of Madison Avenue and the south side of East 26th Street is a strip of additional sidewalk. The tiny arcade is at the front entrance to the building.

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


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  1. submitted by: Anja Lorenz

    The plaza at 41 Madison Avenue blends in completely with the sidewalk around it. It doesn’t set itself aside from the sidewalk in any way other than the circular benches with flower beds in the center and could easily be passed without registering its existence as a POPS. The four sets of benches each have about fifteen seats formed in a circle facing outwards, creating a total of around 60 seats, yet during my time at 41 Madison I saw only two people sit, one woman only briefly as she fixed her shoe. The four different sets of benches are spread out fairly evenly throughout the area and from what I could tell are rarely sat on. I think this is largely because 41 Madison Avenue is placed directly across from Madison Square Park, which is much more inviting than the extension of the sidewalk in front of a tall office building. In addition, while this almost undistinguished space appears benign, spending some time there indicates a certain social and even physical hierarchy. Standing at Madison Square Park facing East 26th Street, one notices the towering office building, filled with corporate offices with two security guards at ground level watching people pass by through the glass walls. This is directly next to a relatively nice and clean POPS with benches for people to sit on, and immediately at the edge of the POPS, the street becomes grungier and has homeless people sleeping on the ground against the wall of the office building. Against the office building a rules of conduct sign is hung stating that lying down on the benches is prohibited, the placement of tents or sleeping bags is prohibited, and removing items from the trash is prohibited. This clearly addresses the homeless population and is therefore excluding part of the public from the privately owned public space. The homeless literally end up at the ground below the towering office building at the perimeter.