13 Blocks of the Upper West Side Approved for Traffic-Less Outdoor Dining

Amsterdam Avenue between 97th and 110th Streets will be blocked off as an “open street” for restaurants to operate outdoors starting this weekend, the mayor announced on Friday. The avenue will stay as open street on the weekends, and revert back to normal traffic on weekdays, according to the mayor’s office.

Update: The Columbus-Amsterdam BID says the streets will be blocked off starting next weekend, August 8-9.

“New Yorkers deserve more public space in our ongoing fight against COVID-19, and we’re proud to offer more places to get a safe outdoor meal on the weekends,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With two extra months of outdoor dining now approved, restaurants will have more chances than ever to get back on their feet.”

The hours of operation will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday nights, and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The street will be overseen by the Columbus-Amsterdam Business Improvement District.

Photo by Russ Allison Loar (not of Amsterdam Avenue).

FOOD, NEWS | 64 comments | permalink
    1. Ellen my Azorin says:

      It’s great to have open streets, but it’s odd that the choice was so far north on Amsterdam Avenue — while the heavily trafficked (and full of restaurants) part of Amsterdam from 72nd to 97th has been left open to the typical heavy vehicle traffic! What is the reasoning behind this?

      • Luther says:

        My guess is that might be because of the homeless that Deblasio has chosen to locate into hotels on 79th & Amsterdam, and around 87th and Amsterdam. If he opened up the outdoor dining there, those two things could collide and there could be incidents that would no doubt be unpleasant and make him look bad.

      • Michael G says:

        Article clearly explains that it involves the Columbus-Amsterdam BID.

        That district = 96th-110th streets.

        So homeless shelters had nothing to do with it. (Who am I kidding: I hear there were tactical cover-up meetings between Mayor DeBlasio, MOPD, never-Trumper CIA operatives, and Chelsea Clinton in the basement of Sal and Carmine’s pizzeria.)

        As for city approval, probably a combination of factors came into play, like traffic patterns above/below 96th and the relative pain of businesses above/below 96th. The idea would be to help out parts of the city in danger of becoming dead zones.

      • Patrick S. says:

        Probably because there is less traffic above 96th St than there is below it. Less people are effected, especially on the weekends. Remember, traffic and population also make 96th St the cutoff for the green taxis as well.

      • Clara Arndtsen says:

        The manager of the BID (and his workers) in that area (96th street to 110th, Columbus and Amsterdam) went to a lot of effort to get this change into effect. For your area, I would suggest contacting your BID manager. It is also worthwhile to note that there have been many open streets in the past that have focused on the middle part of the Upper West Side. But it would be nice if there could be even more Open Streets.

    2. Neal Hurwitz says:

      cool! Marlowe at 11o and Amsterdam is the best! They also run Cibo y Vino at 87 and Bway. Great food! Fine ownership! TY, Neal Hugh Hurwitz, West 115th and RSD.

    3. Dave says:

      Wrong area to open. Should have been 72nd to 90th

      • Clara says:

        This was an initiative by the Columbus-Amsterdam BID, which operates from 96th to 110th. We have plenty of great restaurants up here and are well worth the extra 15 blocks you would have to walk. In addition, there have been fewer Open Streets in this area before now. You should contact your BID to push them to negotiate for more open-streets time.

      • Wlee says:

        Then contact your BID if you want this in your district. This is the Columbus-Amsterdam BID, above 96th, who did the footwork for this opening. Travel up 96th street and you would discover we have nice things too…

    4. UWSider says:

      Am I missing something or is this not the right place to have open dining streets? There are so many more restaurants a little further downtown or on Columbus.

      • MaryC says:

        All of the open streets I’m aware of,and listed in city documents are part of a neighborhood BID (business improvement district) I don’t know if they have to lobby for their open streets or if they have some responsibility to monitor but, but that seems to be the connection and they are listed as “partners”

        The lower part of Amsterdam is also filled with more bars that attract a younger crowd, and it may be seen as too risky

    5. Laura Kay McFadden says:

      Just want to second the readers bewildered by the section of Amsterdam chosen for closure. I live on 103 Street but must acknowledge the concentration of restaurants in the 70s-80s, not here. WSR, can you follow up?

    6. Wijmlet says:

      too much, too soon.

    7. David Burke says:

      As per Mayor di Blasio’s MO, this is a day late and a dollar short.
      I have been in NYC since 1979. All that time in the restaurant biz.
      During the weekends(including Thursday)it would have been so easy to shut Amsterdam & Columbus from 59 to 110 while prohibiting street side parking on CPW and Bway allowing for enhanced traffic flow.

    8. estaban says:

      once again, our hapless city gov’t got it wrong. why close down an area that has minimal food stores when compared to further south. additionally, that is a tremendous amounts of streets. everyone knows how much the mayor hates automobiles, but a dangerous traffic nightmare will be created

    9. Janet says:

      I don’t agree with the above comments. Upper Amsterdam Ave is less “chic” and its establishments should be encouraged and patronized

    10. BJ says:

      Sounds quite biased that they would select that area only to make it easier for restaurant owners. Same kind of bias that says congestion charges don’t apply up there in that part of town. Different sets of rules for citizens of preferred demographics is I guess the way we are going now.

    11. MM S says:

      To be fair, why not alternate closed streets between Amsterdam & 97th to 110th. The next weekend close Amsterdam Av from 72nd to 97th.

    12. Via Ventana says:

      What about bus service?

    13. Janis says:

      Has anyone counted the number of restaurants in both the Amsterdam/97th-110th Sts area, as opposed to the 72rnd through 96th St. area?
      I haven’t. But I find it hard to believe that the streets, this useless man in Gracie Mansion has chosen, can’t have more than ½ of the establishments.

    14. Via Ventana says:

      Also, re: the location. It’s about time north of 96th got some well-deserved attention. Take a walk uptown, you guys.

    15. Erica says:

      To the people who keep saying it should have been 72nd upwards. They all largely already have outdoor seating. You do know that the UWS has more to it than 72nd to 86th, right?

    16. Daisy in Manhattan Valley says:

      I live along that stretch and I am delighted to hear our neighborhood is getting this boost — we have been decimated by Covid both in terms of cases/deaths and retail impact. And unlike the UWS further south, many of us been in the city this whole time. I think the many many healthcare workers in this area will be happy to have a safe place to grab a bite during their weekend shifts. Come and enjoy the many eateries “up” here. Don’t be afraid to make the jump across 96th St. Great Thai and Italian spots, among others!

    17. Mike says:

      Agree with others that this seems like a misguided stretch to open. Why not 72-96?

      There is barely anything re restaurants from 99-106th especially on the east side of Amsterdam.

    18. Elias says:

      Another idiotic idea by our idiot mayor . Hope no one will need an ambulance during the weekend.
      Min positive impact for max inconvenience

    19. Seán Curran says:

      To all the people complainIng that it’s not more south or that the mayor Is making a stupid decision. It has been organized by the Columbus Amsterdam B.I.D. The businesses that are in this area. https://columbusamsterdambid.org/district-map/

      Maybe the businesses south will steal the idea but it has nothing to do with them.

      • Julie in Morningside says:

        Exactly. Enterprise in action. Support the effort. It’s a pleasant, not long, walk. And good exercise too, up and back home after all the delicious food you’ll enjoy.

    20. Craig says:

      It sounds like a good idea in theory. But it’s going to turn into a traffic nightmare. Where will the buses go? And what about the hundreds of parking spaces that will disappear.

      • Josh says:

        It wont be the end of the world. We do it all the time for those annoying street fairs. This, on the other hand, actually supports the local businesses and the neighborhood.

    21. JS says:

      What will happen to the M7 and M11 buses?

      Surprised no other comments/concerns here about buses…

    22. cma says:

      1.Good for Columbus/Amsterdam BID. It’s called COMMUNITY working together. 97-106 always closes for
      Street Fairs, so they and neighborhood and Bus drivers are use to short detours. Adding 4 blocks to have more restaurants good too. 2.And maybe folks can visit St.John The Divine complex while there at 110th street. 3. And how about sharing the wealth?
      4. Fewer restaurants means more space for people to sit/share at safe distances, too. 5.Folks at Amsterdam House Rehab can get out to eat, too!
      My question is, what about the many restaurants on side streets?

    23. CBT says:

      Before complaining, spend some time considering why/how this decision was made. Good as your idea may be, there could be something you have not thought of.

      • World Peacenik says:

        I got it!

        Closing these streets is less disruptive than further south, and the BID took responsibility for enforcement.

        Others have theories that display their attitudes.

        The complaints are always entertaining, when not enraging.

    24. Jm says:

      They don’t want another Astoria and that is what would occur if further south.

    25. Bill says:

      Jeeze, everybody is a critic. How about giving it a chance before you give your two cents. Obviously this is a new idea, and none of us are privy to why or why not one are or another was/wasn’t selected.

    26. Roxy says:

      Why not open the streets where the majority of the restaurants are? Oh yeah, progressives run this state.

    27. Sam says:

      The 1918 Pandemic killed approx 100 million people over the span of two years until the virus had run its course. There were 4 waves with the 2nd and 3rd waves being the deadliest. There was no vaccine, people protested wearing masks and social distancing and businesses re-opened prematurely.

      With an effective vaccine for Covid 6-12 months away it seems to me everything should be done to protect lives until then.

    28. Anna-inez says:

      All this “quibbling” over what streets should be open or closed. The truth is, they should close ALL streets to traffic – at least during summer, especially with Covid. People with cars should think about parking them outside the city in a giant parking lot, and ride electric golf carts or some such little slow vehicles – and truck deliveries etc. should be limited to 3-6 AM 3 days a week. The buses should continue routes along onl certain avenues or streets. Yes, many routes could be adjusted. Perhaps during summer switch to trollies like they have at theme parks to take on riders around the city. It’s Covid summer, what’s the rush? And if we really took some pride in cleaning up our subway stations and making them aesthetically attractive most people in a rush could get where they want to go quickly and feel much happier in the process. (check out 72nd St Station- Central Park subway stop where I believe Yoko Ono added blue skies with puffy white cloud murals along with warm lighting…a real pleasant place to be. We need a plan to expand our space and make this a safer more aesthetically attractive pedestrian city. Okay, Naysayers, I know “IN A PERFECT WORLD…” But perhaps this is how positive change can happen, especially in an old city like New York.

      • JS says:

        Anna Inez,
        Many older people, people with mobility difficulties depend on buses. Also workers, especially coming from night shifts rely on buses.
        To reduce bus routes and service would be a huge hardship, would impact on safety. Low income people would suffer.
        BTW since 2009, pre-Covid, the MTA has continuously reduced bus routes and frequency.

      • lynn says:

        Trollies? Who’s paying for this? We need to invest more money into the MTA to improve the existing system and keep it up and running. Please take into account all of the people who are still working so that you can spend your summer casually walking to your new outdoor restaurants.

    29. Kim says:

      Wrong streets as other commenters noted. It’s needed between 72nd and 96th on Amsterdam.

    30. paulcons says:

      Let’s be real… seems 75% of the population under 30 is over even a pretense of having a mask. That 72 to 96 corridor has tons and tons of their favored hangouts, BARS. Just imagine the street crowds along that stretch… and the majority of them not wearing masks. AND while there aren’t as MANY restaurants 96-110, there are a LOT of very good ones.

    31. LivesOnUWS says:

      There are actually some incredible places to eat North of 96th on Amsterdam. Judging by the comments and how few people realize this about the UWS. They could really use this type of boost of business.

    32. mom says:

      I hope Ortomare and Calaveras and others on Columbus are participating. They are great, and Ortomare delivery (and distanced gelato stand) kept us alive during the lockdown. Good luck to all the businesses

    33. Keith says:

      I can’t believe the rancor this plan has caused. I thought 10023 and 10024 were the most liberal zones in the whole country, but a lot of the comments here sound small-minded, parochial and bigoted.

      How about giving 10025 a chance, and if it works well, see if the plan can be extended south?

      • Seriously says:

        Hear, hear! The restaurants above 96th street need the exposure and more business so good job, local BID.

    34. Dan M says:

      I’m glad the restaurants on this strip will get a look from fellow UWSers that don’t step above 96th street.
      Guacamole and Moonrise Izakaya btw 97 and 98th are both awesome, fun places- both have very good food and drinks
      Arco (btw 103 and 104) and Bosino (tucked on 103) both have tasty Italian food.
      Thai Market btw 107 and 108 is top 2-3 Thai place in the UWS in my opinion. Try the Gai Rad Prik!
      Amity Hall one block up could fit right in with E’s bar, Jacob’s pickles and friends
      Marlow’s bistro one block north of that is really an excellent scene.
      And that’s leaving out so many places!
      Have faith friends!

      • Stu says:

        Leaving out “so many places”? I think you listed practically all of them! Below 106th, there isn’t a single restaurant on the east side of Amsterdam, and only a few on the west side.

        • MaryC says:

          Also Raenu Thai, Malecon, Pearls Chinese, Noche Mexicana, Roma kosher pizza, Roti Roti, and yes, even more. Something for everyone, all small local businesses. Mostly very modestly priced. I think most people here never go above 96th street or don’t think these places count!

        • Dan M says:

          Ignorance is bliss.

          I could go on and list more establishments if you’d like

          Nobody Told Me is a cool bar with a great burger on the east side on Amsterdam by 107th
          Mokja is a nice little Korean place by 102nd
          If you don’t want to get thai food at Thai Market you can go across to the east side of the street to eat at Spice.
          Noche Mexicana by 101st has more authentic Mexican food than anything in the 70s
          Dive 106 and Lion’s head tavern are also good bar scenes.

          Grain house is on the east side below 106th FYI.

          These are only places I have been to. There’s no doubting that there are more restaurants between 72nd and 96th than in 10025 but no need for people to act as if it’s a burden to them that this is what the city chose.

    35. Wendy says:

      ?? I don’t get it. Amsterdam Ave is a major uptown street. Why would they close it off, especially since there aren’t that many restaurants up there. There are a lot of public housing buildings between 98th and 102nd Street, not cafes and restaurants. Really strange.

    36. Isabella says:

      It’s interesting that the city would choose to open this part of the UWS for outdoor dining-an area that has so little real “dining” on those blocks. I live in this area. This is a restaurant desert for reasons my friends and I can never understand. Sure there are some reliable and good small neighborhood spots that are certainly commendable. But one would hardly go out of their way if they were not living within a few blocks of them. And there are very, very few of them as compared to lower down on Amsterdam or Columbus Avenue. Then again maybe it might inspire a few good privately owned restaurants to discover how underserved the area is and open up. We can hope.

    37. GC says:

      Update at 7pm. The street is wide open and a few measly sawhorses on the sidewalk doing nothing. Officer Loo at the 24th (who refused to put on his mask when I inquired about this) said “they have a permit for 3 days but my boss says it’s only for tomorrow.”

    38. Jim says:

      All of these left wing loon politicians (de Blasio, Corey Johnson) want this to be permanent. A lot of people drive for a living in NYC, taxi drivers for instance. Close all the streets, brilliant idea.