UWS Gets Two Car-Free ‘Open Boulevards’ and a Sunday Outdoor Restaurant Street


Photo via NYC DOT.

Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues between 106th and 110th Street will become car-free “Open Boulevards” on weekends, as part of a city program to extend the Open Streets program that has been operating in parts of the city for the past several months.

In addition, Amsterdam between 96th and 106th will go car-free on Sundays.

The idea is to allow for more outdoor dining, and also community activities that can take place in the street. It will almost be like a weekly street fair. The community activities will likely take a few more weeks to start up, so for now it’s mostly about the restaurants and more room to walk around.

The hours of each section are below:

Columbus 106th-110th: 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Amsterdam 106th-110th: 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Amsterdam 96th-106th: 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. ONLY Sundays

Sections of the area have been closed down on and off since early in the pandemic. Amsterdam from 96th to 110th was closed off from August until November of last year, but since then it’s only been 106th to 110th on that avenue.

FOOD, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 77 comments | permalink
    1. lynn says:

      I’ve never understood this concept. Are people traveling to that neighborhood to walk around in the open area, or is it the people who already live there who feel constricted by using a sidewalk and need to walk and/or in an ‘open’ street? Is there no access to Riverside and Central parks? Was there outdoor dining in that area before Covid? Aren’t we allowed to eat inside again? And street fairs? For as long as I’ve been reading the WSR half the population of the UWS been complaining about them. But now it’s a community activity? I feel bad for everyone who needs to get to appointments by bus. Just checked Uber for someone and the surge rates are $46-$51 for a ride that would normally cost $12-$15. 🙁

    2. ben says:

      Car owners complaints in 3, 2, 1…

      • JS says:

        Ben,
        Actually buses have been rerouted.
        It is truly a hardship for elderly and disabled

        • Josh says:

          They are rerouted one avenue over, just as they are during street fairs. And Broadway to Amsterdam is not even a full avenue from 96rh to 106th.

          • JS says:

            Josh,
            Respectfully – I imagine you’d understand if you were helping out elderly or disabled relatives or friends.

            The rerouting of the M7 and especially the M11 is a real hardship.
            Amsterdam to Broadway are long blocks with a cane, walker etc.

    3. Renie Reiss says:

      It would be nice to have a map showing the re-routing of buses in these areas during those times.

      • Jack Davis says:

        Hi Renie. I checked http://www.mta.info. No rerouting info posted there yet. My SWAG is that M7 and M11 will be rerouted to Broadway to get around the planned 106-110 St blockage.

    4. Paul says:

      Will a lane on Amsterdam remain open for access by ambulances heading for Mt Sinai
      North?

      • Can't says:

        I have to drive past Amsterdam to Broadway go past the hospital to 114th then go back to Amsterdam and then down to 113th to reach the hospital. Adds about two minutes.

        And the small lane open on amsterdam is never wide enough for the ambulance, I have to get out of the ambulance and move the barrier drive a block get out again and move the next barrier.

        It’s pretty annoying and no one ever helps and just stares at me.

    5. TravelgalNYC says:

      This is great news! Let’s follow the model of European cities where there are open ‘plazas’ for pedestrians and businesses. It’s only 4 blocks long. I completely respect that elderly folks need their cars to get around. But for the rest of the able-bodied community, remember that we live in a very walkable city that ideally is not car-centric.

      • Cato says:

        In other words, let’s make our neighborhoods accessible only to the “able-bodied community” so they can go to restaurants, and everybody else — not just “elderly”, but the many other people who are not “able-bodied” — can just wait a few days to go to doctors, do grocery shopping, visit friends and relatives, and so on.

        Really? You really need to cruise restaurants on asphalt that badly? Doesn’t being “able-bodied” let you walk on the sidewalk, too?

      • Lee says:

        It is not 4 blocks. It is 14 blocks.

      • Ted says:

        It’s not cars for the elderly and disabled to drive, it’s the ambulances and transportation to go to their homes!

    6. Susan Morton says:

      Soon to be starting street fair! (I hope it’s not blasting loud music every day ALL day) I hated that when it was on Broadway in front of my building twice in a season, so I’m sure residents on Amsterdam won’t be thrilled with that part….. please ask/tell the organizers that this kind of wall-to-wall sound carpet is unnecessary and equals SOUND POLLUTION for many.

      • Christina says:

        We should get rid of the street fairs that go on for blocks and blocks with each one selling the same things and go back to actual block parties to get to know your neighbors and support the block not commercial vendors!

      • WJL says:

        Susan,

        You seriously live in the wrong city if infrequent street fairs are so bothersome. This is what makes NYC great – lively, vibrant events. I live on Amsterdam on the Open Street and it is lovely to enjoy our local restaurants and activities right out side my door. Much better than honking cars…

        • citycatsman says:

          A bit rough, don”t you think WJL? I’m with Susan…whom I value as a fellow New Yorker.

    7. MB says:

      I have really loved seeing the closures above 96th. It truly does bring a lot of foot traffic to the areas and it’s nice to see all the businesses become busy again. It has certainly made for pleasant biking around the neighborhood, too!

    8. Michael Calmenson says:

      How about banning cell phone use on the car-closed streets? Cell phone use distracts from shopping.

      • nemo paradise says:

        Outstanding idea. It’s a small thing to ask to keep our neighborhood shops safe.

    9. Janis says:

      Have you checked the number of stores and restaurants between 96th and 106th on Amsterdam. There are no stores or restaurants on the east side of the street, aside from Key Food & CVS between 96th & 97th, and probably less than 10 on the west side; approximately five restaurants, the hardware store, and a discount store. Our neighborhood already patronizes those retail establishments, so why is
      the administration shutting down all northbound traffic in those areas?
      Just another failed DeBlasio program.

      • Susan Morton says:

        I was thinking that myself….. this is redundant in the 96-106 area. Nice to have fewer cars and more space to walk but not a priority. Better address all the bikers who go the wrong way and with whom I’ve had several near-misses.

      • Michael H. Stearns says:

        This measure is just an expansion of the city’s means to inc rease traffic congestion and the resulting air pollution from idling cars. It also is another means to encumber access to residences and businesses on the side streets between Amsterdam and Columbus. The restaurants have plenty of space now that they can expand into enclosures that take up parking spaces. And what about the drivers who pay gas taxes that are used to pay for road usage?

      • Allison says:

        It’s from 99th to 110th, not 96th. And also if you’re DRIVING to CVS or Key Foods… you’re doing the whole “being a New Yorker” thing wrong.

        • nemo paradise says:

          You know, I’ve lived here for 50 years now, and never once did I think “I must do thus and such because I want to ‘live like a New Yorker.'”

          Tribalism has its uses, but it doesn’t generally contribute much to a discussion of traffic patterns.

      • Jimmy says:

        You are absolutely right this is a terrible idea ambulances fire engines police cars are stuck in traffic with their Sirens blowing nobody can move the benefit to restaurants is miniscule except for a few this concept is ridiculous

        • Jay says:

          Fdny and nypd have veto power on open streets, so if it were an actual issue this wouldn’t happen. Instead we have a few people who will make up any excuse to prevent shared use of our public spaces.

          • Cato says:

            We already have “shared use of public spaces”. That’s what makes them public.

            What is being talked about here is *exclusionary* use of public spaces — I can use them, but you (car, ambulance, bus, people with disabilities) can’t.

      • Whywatch says:

        Correct on number of stores/restaurants. There are just 9 restaurants in that stretch of 10 blocks so it is a joke and unnecessary especially considering other parts of Amsterdam where there are 5-10 restaurants in one block length (Check 80th-86th for instance). The other issue is the location, which has traffic feeds across town and in and out of one of the few entries into the Westside highway. The latter create noise and car pollution in that area. Very very Unnecessary.

    10. West 90th Street Jeff says:

      Important omission: What is the start date for these shutdowns?

    11. Beth says:

      What will happen to the M11 bus, on which seniors depend for rides in both directions on weekends?

    12. Deb says:

      I can only access my parking garage from Amsterdam and then a left on 101st St. which is a one way street. This means I can’t use my garage on a Sunday? Any suggestions?

      • Juan says:

        That is a really good question – because of the superblock between Amsterdam and Columbus for much of this span, this not only impacts the closed avenues but makes the cross town streets between Amsterdam and Broadway inaccessible as well.

        When a street fair closes an avenue, the cross towns are still usually open so a lot fewer people are impacted and traffic can flow a bit more.

    13. Richard says:

      There are not many stores and restaurants between 106th and 110th street, and many are small takeout places, except for a few places on Amsterdam, just south of 110th. I rode my bicycle on weekend. Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues are desolate with not many people outside or strolling. I find this yet another of Deblasio’s misguided programs that do not reflect well on his administration.

      • J says:

        If you go during the open street times they are pretty far from desolate… especially Amsterdam

      • wjl says:

        There are plenty of restaurants betwee 106 and 110. And because most are tiny, and COVID restrictions esentially shut them down, outdoor space is vital to their survival and widely used. I live in the area and love it. Ambulences and emergency vehicles can still get through.

    14. Lee says:

      If you live on a west- heading side street between Amsterdam and Broadway in the middle of this zone, and need to reach you home by car with heavy packages, and you’re elderly or disabled, what are you supposed to do? Walk five blocks with them? I don’t understand how it’s right to block people from accessing their own homes via public transportation or car. Can someone please explain that?

      • Boris says:

        Drive west on your street starting from Central Park West where there are no traffic restrictions.

        • Juan says:

          You can’t – there are several blocks where there is no cross town from CPW because of the superblock between Amsterdam and Columbus. So similarly, east bound streets are also effectively closed between Broadway and Amsterdam.

          • Josh says:

            I if you are just pulling up to your own building, you stop on the adjacent avenue. If you are accessing a garage, I think it is then acceptable to SLOWLY (5mph) drive the wrong way on the otherwise closed street to enter your garage. Suggest using flashers as well.

            • Juan says:

              That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Any other ideas?

              Typical UWS. Some people got a brilliant idea, possibly with the good intention of helping a few restaurants. They didn’t really think about how it would impact their neighbors, and are now digging in their heels and rationalizing it because they are stubborn.

    15. Lee says:

      This does not seem fair to those living in this zone on the side street. They cannot access their homes other than by foot. What if they have heavy packages, are moving, or are elderly or disabled?

    16. BB says:

      It’s a nice addition to the bike lanes, eventually we’ll be like Amsterdam (with a population of 872,680[7] within the city proper, 1,558,755 in the urban area[8] and 2,480,394 in the metropolitan area).

      • js says:

        BB
        If NYC could transform to a lovely old city like Amsterdam – old low rise buildings, no luxury high-rises – that works for me🙂
        (Or even to NYC of let’s say 1990….)
        When will big real estate start tearing down the luxury high buildings in Manhattan?

        • Cato says:

          Hear, hear!

          Let’s put in some canals, too! We could just excavate into the subway tunnels — hey, Amsterdam does just fine without a subway, doesn’t it? — and turn them into nifty quaint waterways. Great to ride your bike alongside of, too!

          And we’d have to replace the buses with trolley cars, of course.

          Let’s really live up to our true name of “New Amsterdam”!

    17. Upper Jess Side says:

      This is great. Whatever we can do to discourage private cars from polluting our neighborhood and creating safety hazards for our children and seniors, the better. Fewer private cars also mean faster rides for those without alternatives, another worthy goal. And supporting our small business too. This is a great program and should be expanded to more streets and more times.

      • Huh? says:

        Great in concept.
        Is this your street? Do you know that there are many needed and supported local businesses but barber shops and convenience stores don’t need “open streets”. The east side of the street has mostly residential buildings and a couple of playgrounds.
        It blocks access to Mt Sinai Morningside hospital and the police and Fire vehicles needing to get back to their stations on 100th street are also impacted.
        I support the idea but not on those blocks. Amsterdam Avenue between 79th and 86th would make perfect sense.
        Some of the blocks near the CCNY campus further uptown also seem like a possibility.

        • WJL says:

          So tired of those complaining about not having open streets between 79th and 86th. Why doesn’t your neighborhood association or City Council member (Helen Rosenthal) advocate for your area? Might want to ask.

    18. Carlos says:

      I don’t understand the point of this. There are plenty of parks and wide sidewalks in the area. As others have noted, there are basically no businesses on the east side of Amsterdam in this stretch, so at a minimum, keep the right lane open as a bus/ambulance lane.

      And I really don’t get all the car hate. I don’t own a car but many people have very good reasons for driving one. This will just cause more pollution, not less.

    19. Anne says:

      106 through 110 or 111 on Amsterdam has restaurants that take advantage of the extra space. But 96-106 was always deserted when the open streets was on. Lots of bike delivery people zooming along in both directions endangering the pedestrians. No community activities or cafes were in place. Also, it creates an even bigger traffic jam and probably more accidents at 96th street. The entrance to the west side highway gets backed up. Has there been no community input on these changes?

    20. UWSder says:

      What a complete stupidity. I find it amusing that 10 blocks of Amsterdam Avenue that are closed have the least number of business,restaurant activity on them. Why not close 86 to 96th stretch or even better 72nd to 86th??? Also,if one is to judge based on the last weekend, the closure results in a massive traffic jam whith all the vehicles barely moving, which clearly results in increased pollution and contributes to global warming. But somehow this is OK since it supports ‘community’ events.

    21. PF says:

      Not the culinary go-to spot for most.. in fact, It’s kind of a no- man’s land for restaurants imho.

      • Nevets K says:

        Language creates.
        Please let’s call these streets “Closed Streets,” which is what they are.
        “Open Streets” is purely Orwellian.

        War is Peace. Closed Street Are Open.

        “Four wheels bad, two wheels good!“
        Baahhh!

        “I will pedal harder! DiBlasio is always right!”

    22. Subway Schlub says:

      The traffic jam at 96th and Amsterdam this afternoon was something to behold!

      However, alternative bus schedules must be more clearly posted and communicated.

      • Josh says:

        Only during some light cycles. At others, the intersection was remarkably clear. As more people get used to the closures, they will start turning off the avenue sooner rather than waiting until 96th. I passed that intersection about a dozen times yesterday and it was more clear than blocked. But there definitely were moments where it was really jammed. Traffic agents directing traffic at 96/Amsterdam and 96/Broadway during those times would probably be a good idea.

    23. Ingrid says:

      Great!!!

    24. notsofast says:

      “New Yorkers are tough.” How often have you heard that? I’m convinced that NYC politicians are determined to see just how tough we are by making life here as much of an ordeal as possible. They spend all their time thinking of new ways to torture us in the name of “progress.”

    25. Kathy says:

      This is an awful idea for the residents on those streets who should have a say in such decisions. Not only elderly and disabled need to use cars.There are people who work outside the city, service workers who come in, many of whom no longer feel secure on our once safe subway system.
      Also , the street fair idea will increase garbage in filthy streets where community people are volunteering to clean up ( thank you, volunteers) Di Blasio’s decision to cut back cleaning has resulted in more rats in some areas. Furthermore. In addition to the noise and pollution these “ open streets” will hurt the restaurants have been hurt excessively in the past year and would benefit more to have people utilizing their outdoor cafes.
      The anti-car nonsense is your Transportation Alternatives usual vile rhetoric. Too many bicyclists already running red lights, going wrong way on one way streets and not contributing to the use of the roads nor being insured to protect the people they hurt.

    26. Marilyn says:

      Correction:
      This idea is a good idea but it also isn’t good because I look out my window & I see Cars STILL going through the close streets.This is going on While Kids are running around or on their scooters & parents pushing strollers! Then the Drivers have the audacity to go right behind Parents/People & blow their horns. I feel they should have a Police officer by every street closure starting from 96st – 110 st for Pedestrians safety!!
      Reply

    27. UWSWasp says:

      I like this idea.

    28. Phoebe O says:

      I agree with all those who think it’s a terrible idea because of all of the people who’s lives will become seriously impacted by this plan. This city is already far behind in it’s efforts to accommodate less able-bodied residents, and this only adds another dimension to how user-unfriendly it can be to navigate our city.

    29. J says:

      Need some open boulevards in the 60s/70s/80s too.

    30. Theadora D Brown says:

      Why is their a difference in the start hours?

    31. ml says:

      Re: Buses
      The Amsterdam dining closure actually extends to 111th with a barrier at 113th.
      That means the M11 bus (uptown) is rerouted until 120th Street because there is no place to make a right turn from Broadway to Amsterdam.
      Many elderly, disabled and also NYCHA residents depend on buses.
      There are also several churches on Amsterdam so especially a problem on Sundays for elderly and disabled bus riders.
      Also impacts on St. Luke’s/Mt. Sinai and Amsterdam nursing home and rehab

    32. JG says:

      What are all you car owners worried about? People will just take the barricades down and drive through as they’ve been doing for the last year. The police will look the other way because they side with the motorists.

    33. Gerald Holeman says:

      Why is it that residents in harlem or Washington heights don’t get the same PRIVILEGES for their restaurant vendors. Please explain WHY. DONT THE PEOPLE ABOVE 110 ST DESERVE THE SAME TREATMENT AND BENEFITS.

      • Nevets K says:

        Perhaps because too many people there might not put up with “Closed Streets,” as these are clearly an inconvenience and nuisance to most residents.
        Many “progressive policies” begin in more wealthy, liberal neighborhoods before they are jettisoned after the local politicians and “community leaders,” most of whom own second homes upstate, have established their “progressive bona fides” and have moved up their career ladders. We are the easy marks for their idiotic plans.

    34. UWSider says:

      This is nothing but showing the middle finger to all people living on Broadway who have to endure the noise and congestion of all those streets combined.
      Traffic doesn’t disappear it just get rerouted to become someone else’s problem.