200 East 61st Street

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Like Trump Plaza’s residential plaza one block north across Third Avenue, this split residential plaza, just east of Third Avenue on East 60th and 61st Streets, is almost invisible to Third Avenue pedestrians. This is regrettable, because both plaza spaces possess qualities commending them to the brief pauses favored by rushing passersby. For example, the smaller usable residual space on East 61st Street in front of the residential tower’s primary entrance is perfectly designed for a quick stop. The sidewalk frontage has sittable granite ledges. With a perimeter shaped like the croix de guerre, the upwardly sloping approach to the building is flanked with benches with backs and ledges for drop-in, drop-out seating. Plantings behind the seating are unusually rejuvenating, exhibiting a wide range of colorful hues set at the floor of larger shrubs and trees. The space functions under the watchful eye of the doorman, who can be seen monitoring activities from behind glass front doors. Like the Trump space, this plaza does not discriminate functionally between members of the public and residents of the building.

The larger, primary space on East 60th Street appears to enjoy a regular following, in large measure because food takeout services front the plaza, and movable white café tables and chairs accommodate lunchtime crowds. Portable signs among the tables inform members of the public that they are free to sit at the tables and chairs without obligation to purchase. The change in use patterns here over the years has been dramatic. In the late 1980s, the space had a spare ambiance, the building’s windows were generally opaque, and, except for a record store, most of the retail activities were specialized services. Now, with the two-story façade at back rendered transparent and leased to a restaurant, coupled with additional food service to the west, the owners have successfully Impressed use and design changes to activate the primary space. Round ledges on the eastern side in front of landscaping provide additional seating. Like several other spaces in the neighborhood, this one in past years has suffered theft of a public space plaque, presumably in the thief’s belief that its brass content had value. At a recent site visit, plaques were intact and in place.


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