New York City Mayor Eric Adams today unveiled plans to bring back and expand the popular holiday season Open Street along Fifth Avenue and around Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan this December.
Building on the success of last year’s groundbreaking program, the 2023 version will set a record for New York City’s largest-ever holiday season-specific Open Street — expanding geographically by nearly 25 percent to reach Central Park and running again on three Sundays in December 03, 10, and 17, 2023, between noon and 06:00 p.m.
This year, the iconic Fifth Avenue corridor will be fully open to pedestrians between 48th Street and 59th Street, in addition to the area around Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall that will be pedestrianized throughout the holiday season. This dramatic expansion of public space in one of the world’s busiest neighborhoods at this time of year will significantly ease crowding — facilitating access to the iconic holiday window displays and creating a more pleasant holiday environment while also enhancing public safety for New Yorkers and visitors.
Mayor Adams’ bold vision for a pedestrian- and family-friendly Fifth Avenue has also proven beneficial to local businesses. During the program in 2022, businesses saw an additional $3 million in spending — a 6.6 percent increase — according to a study conducted by Mastercard, in partnership with the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) and Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. To deliver these commercial and safety benefits all year round, the Adams administration is working with the “Future of Fifth” partnership and their core consultant team to permanently reimagine Fifth Avenue as a safer, less congested, pedestrian-centered boulevard. Today, the Future of Fifth partnership launched a new website and a public survey for all New York City residents and visitors to kick off the community engagement and visioning process for the Future of Fifth. The survey takes approximately two to three minutes to complete and will be open through February 2024.
“Open Streets are good for people and good for business, and we cannot wait to bring back the iconic Fifth Avenue Open Street this holiday season — bigger and better than ever,” said Mayor Adams. “I felt the energy walking down the middle of Fifth Avenue last year — it was electric. And as we get excited for more of the same this December, we are moving full speed ahead on permanently reimagining Fifth Avenue, so people can have this incredible experience every day of the year.”
“We look forward to welcoming New Yorkers and tourists alike to Fifth Avenue Holidays Open Streets again this year,” said Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack. “These events offer a model of public-private partnership to boost our economy and available open space. We appreciate the significant effort of our city’s agencies — including DOT and NYPD — in making these events happen.”
“Here in New York City, our streets are our front yards — and especially during the holiday season, New Yorkers deserve wide-open front yards where they can walk, play, and shop,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “We delivered that this summer with the city’s largest-ever Open Streets and Summer Streets programs in all five boroughs, we are delivering it again this December with our expanded holiday Open Streets on Fifth Avenue, and we’re going to keep delivering that as we reimagine Fifth Avenue — for good — and transform what it feels like to be outside in the greatest city in the world.”
“We are excited that under Mayor Adams’ leadership, we are bringing back the Fifth Avenue Open Street,” said New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Whether you are window-shopping or taking in the Rockefeller Center tree, we are building upon last year’s successful program to add improvements this year that will make the Open Street an absolute must-visit part of the holidays for New Yorkers and visitors. And with expansion of the number of days to include the Sunday of the busy Thanksgiving weekend, we expect the Open Street will be more popular than ever.”
“The Fifth Avenue Holiday Street was a tremendous success last year, and I am delighted that we will be expanding the program and working to design a Fifth Avenue that works for pedestrians and local businesses year-round,” said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. “As we learned recently through our partnership with Mastercard, the Fifth Avenue Open Street can result in millions of dollars in additional spending at local businesses, and a delightful holiday experience for New Yorkers and visitors alike.”
Fifth Avenue: On December 03, 10, and 17, 2023, from noon until 06:00 p.m., Fifth Avenue will be open only to pedestrians between 48th Street to 59th Street. In addition, throughout the entire holiday season, moveable barriers will be placed on the east and west sides of Fifth Avenue, between 48th Street and 52nd Street. On days the street is not designated an Open Street, beginning in the early afternoon on weekdays and in the morning on weekends, these barriers will be used to repurpose a lane of traffic on each side of the avenue as additional pedestrian space. To accommodate high pedestrian traffic, westbound vehicle right turns will be prohibited from Fifth Avenue onto 47th Street, 49th Street, or 51st Street.
On the designated Sundays, Open Street visitors will be able to enjoy a range of performances and other forms of entertainment on multiple stages, along with street activations. Food and beverage vendors will also serve the area, and public seating will be provided.
Rockefeller Center: Starting with the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on Wednesday, November 30, through January, the city will pedestrianize the streets surrounding Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, using movable barriers to partially or fully close streets to cars and alleviate foot traffic along sidewalks. With the support of Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and New York City Councilmember Keith Powers, W. 49th Street and W. 50th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue, will be open only to pedestrians during the most congested hours, between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. every day. The New York Police Department will help ensure that vehicle traffic does not enter those streets.
Details on Open Streets programming along Fifth Avenue will be announced in November. More information about DOT’s Open Streets program is available online.
In addition to the Fifth Avenue Association — the Adams administration’s close partner on the holiday season Open Streets initiative — the “Future of Fifth” public-private partnership includes the Grand Central Partnership, Bryant Park Corporation, and Central Park Conservancy, three key business improvement districts and civic organizations engaged in the neighborhood. These joint efforts to make Fifth Avenue safer and more welcoming deliver on recommendations in Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s “Making New York Work for Everyone” action plan. They also build on Mayor Adams’ $375 million investment in creating new, vibrant public spaces across all five boroughs, outlined in his “Working People’s Agenda,” as well as bold, innovative public space initiatives to bring car-free Summer Streets to all five boroughs and provide more than 100 car-free “Trick-or-Streets” locations this Halloween.
“Fifth Avenue’s iconic attractions are one of the top tourist destinations in the world during the holiday season,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “I applaud this expansion of the Open Streets program which will allow New Yorkers and visitors alike to enjoy a safer holiday experience free from traffic congestion.”
“The mayor’s Open Streets plan is a Christmas gift to the millions who will descend upon Midtown Manhattan next month,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “In a month where each day we will see 350,000 visitors to Times Square and 750,000 to the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, additional open spaces will allow for an enjoyable holiday experience for everyone. This year’s Holiday Open Streets will be almost 25 percent bigger than last year’s, which generated an additional $3 million in revenue for local businesses. Under the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams, this holiday season will feature unprecedented energy throughout the five boroughs, part of the year-round energy he brings to New York City.”
“Last year’s holiday-season Open Streets was a resounding success, helping to both drive additional economic activity and provide more space for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy. I’m extremely excited that the city is expanding this great program,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “Beyond this holiday season, the future of Fifth Avenue is bright. I am looking forward to working with all local stakeholders as we re-envision this world-renowned corridor.”
“Walking down Fifth Avenue during the weekend can sometimes feel like navigating an obstacle course,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers. “Thankfully, as we enter one of the busiest periods of the year, we are once more making Fifth Avenue an Open Street, which will give New Yorkers much-needed room to stroll, shop, and enjoy the timeless holiday displays. Last year’s Open Streets was a huge success and I know this year will be even better.”
“No city does the holidays like New York,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers, chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “The holiday season Open Streets program has proven a joy for pedestrians and an enhancer of public safety. Moreover, as a member of the Council’s Committee on Small Business, I applaud the administration’s efforts to uplift local businesses during the busiest shopping season of the year.”
“Every year, Fifth Avenue transforms into an elegant winter wonderland, and this year, Open Streets will once again turn the avenue into a roomy pedestrian haven for visitors to enjoy our Gift of Fifth holiday lineup, featuring festive performances, unique food and shopping experiences, and famously beautiful décor,” said Marie Boster, president, Fifth Avenue Association. “As Fifth comes alive with seasonal spirit and some of the most famous window displays in the world, the Open Streets initiative shines a spotlight on the businesses and retailers that the city and region have come to rely on. We are grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, the Doris Duke Foundation and our members for championing Fifth Avenue this holiday season and encourage everyone to jingle all the way to the Gift of Fifth this year.”
“I look forward to the return of this year’s Fifth Avenue Open Street, which will provide a more pedestrian-friendly experience and entryway into Central Park this holiday season,” said Betsy Smith, president and CEO, Central Park Conservancy. “Our team works year-round to care for Central Park, and we look forward to welcoming New Yorkers and visitors during this wonderful time of year.”
“Fifth Avenue remains one of the most popular destinations in the world during the holidays,” said Fred Cerullo, president and CEO, Grand Central Partnership. “With the sidewalks of Fifth Avenue teeming with shoppers, tourists, and visitors during the holiday shopping season, the return of the Holiday Open Streets program on three successive Sundays this December will be an experience everyone can enjoy.”
“The holiday season in New York is truly magical, particularly at Rockefeller Center and on Fifth Avenue,” said EB Kelly, senior managing director, Tishman Speyer. “The seasonal street closures will make it easier for all the New Yorkers and visitors who come to the area to shop, dine, and see the world’s most famous Christmas Tree and all the holiday displays. We look forward to another festive season!”
“At Doris Duke Foundation, we believe that when artists thrive, we all thrive — and there is no greater city for artists and the performing arts than New York City,” said Sam Gill, president and CEO, Doris Duke Foundation. “We are excited to partner with the Adams administration, the Fifth Avenue Association, and so many others to ensure that this holiday season our city’s most iconic street — Fifth Avenue — is a global beacon of all that makes New York City great, including the performing arts.”
“This is how we create holiday magic,” said Jackson Chabot, director of organizing and advocacy, Open Plans. “Tourists and New Yorkers alike flock to this iconic area for shopping, eating, and marveling at the holiday lights, but it is hard to feel like you are in a winter wonderland when you are shouting over car horns and darting through dangerous intersections. Dedicating this space for pedestrians shows that New York City understands that our city’s magic is created on foot, with people — not cars. We cannot wait to see the transformation when this same approach is applied to Fifth Avenue year-round.”
“New Yorkers love car-free streets — and last year’s wildly-successful car-free Fifth Avenue shows what’s possible when we give streets back to people,” said Danny Harris, executive director, Transportation Alternatives. “We are glad to see the City of New York expand the scope of this holiday season’s Fifth Avenue Open Streets, giving tourists, shoppers, workers, and residents more room to live, work, shop, and play. We look forward to working with leaders across New York City to build on the successes of the Open Streets program.”