Sited between Third and Lexington Avenues on the north side of East 48th Street, this stark rectangular urban plaza for years has accepted a dreary fate. Large surrounding buildings and a relative absence of sunlight have made the space dark and cold. The lack of retail frontage, thriving landscaping, and agreeable amenities has kept the user population low. The sittable ledge around the brick planter, displaying several bushes and trees decorated year-round with Christmas lights, is almost never occupied. For years, the sign at the western front has contained a punctuation error, insisting that the space is “for the publics enjoyment.” A more serious error is its announcement of restricted hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. No record of City approval for hours less than 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, has been found.
Given the density of midtown development, all spaces are at first appreciated. Given the competition of nearby public spaces at 780 Third Avenue and 767 Third Avenue down East 48th Street, this urban plaza in its present configuration is unlikely to be a user’s first choice. At the time of this writing, the owner is discussing with the City the installation of an open air café and an accompanying upgrading of the space.