215 Park Avenue South, 1901
New York, NY 10003
212 962 6307
New York, NY
Could the temporary shutdown of one of New York’s most important subway lines have a silver lining? From Bushwick to Williamsburg to Manhattan’s 14th Street corridor, the L-train in this new era has gone from a sleepy gray subway corridor to a luminous silver line, connecting some of New York’s most vibrant and creative neighborhoods. The shutdown will give the L-train critical long-term resilience, and we must confront the consequences with the determination and innovation for which New York is renown. This will demand the grit that daily inspires New Yorkers to make lemonade from lemons, albeit spiked with a shot of tequila.
This challenging event affords the opportunity to consider not only the 14th Street corridor, but the potential to design a pilot for the long-term surface mobility of our city, with a much-needed reorientation towards the pedestrian, the cyclist, and the street-level straphanger. Most take for granted the disproportionate amount of space dedicated to private vehicles in New York. It is only in recent years, thanks to grassroots advocacy and government leadership, that we have seen the re-appropriation of roadbed for bike lanes, pocket parks, and of course, Times Square. In response ubiquitous naysayers – similar to those who recently predicted the “Carmaggedon” in Los Angeles that never came – claimed the sky would fall, but these Chicken Littles looked even smaller and more yellow bellied when the predicted calamities never struck. Armed with this experience we must be courageous visionaries in the reconceptualization of 14th Street, of course with the necessary sensitivities to businesses and residents concerned about traffic. But ultimately we must hold to the conviction that our streets belong to the people, whether they are propelled by bikes, wheelchairs, buses, or Air Jordans.
Our proposal for 14th Street has precisely this focus on the indefatigable foot soldiers of New York, demanding that our pedestrians be the rulers of the road.
We propose two achievable phases for a new “Silver Line” along 14th Street centered on the deployment of new station pavilions inspired by Bogota’s Transmilenio and Curitiba’s BRT system. These pavilions would be durable, affordable, sustainable, and “temporary” in the sense that they would not require any foundations or infrastructure in the roadbed – they would simply sit on the street. Constructed with a tough, modular system that can be assembled easily on site, the structures would serve several purposes at once.