The top 10 Open Streets in NYC to hit this spring and summer

The top 10 Open Streets in NYC to hit this spring and summer


Now that spring is officially here, New Yorkers won’t be relegated to the sidewalk anymore. With about 164 open streets (closed to traffic) around the five boroughs, we’ll be biking, walking, skating and playing in the streets.

The Open Streets program kicked off during the pandemic in the spring of 2020, when the need for outdoor activities was at an all-time high, with the goal of opening about 100 miles for locals to spread out.

As we’re entering the program’s second year, New Yorkers have found new ways to utilize these new open spaces, from holding farmers’ markets and free programming to live music and community barbecues. Street Lab even brought pop-up reading rooms, art studios, chalk murals and more, transforming city streets and other public spaces into vibrant community hubs of artistic expression, learning and fun.

RECOMMENDED: Over 100 NYC streets will go car-free later this month.

With this success, the city initiated Open Boulevards, adding even more streets with dining options, cultural activities and programs and made the entire Open Streets program permanent a year later in 2021.

Now that things are heating up in NYC, we’ve teamed up with Jackson Chabot the Director Public Space Advocacy at OpenPlans, a non-profit group that advocates for livable streets and neighborhoods, to identify the 10 best Open Streets in the city that you should hit up this spring and summer. 

The Bronx

Arthur Avenue

This popular thoroughfare, aka Piazza di Belmont, will be closed to traffic from East 186th St. to Crescent Ave. on weekends for the third year in a row. The street becomes even livelier than usual—between 6pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from 3pm to 9pm on Sundays (between May 6 and September 25), al fresco dining is the main activity here. Zero Otto Nove, Enzo’s of Arthur Avenue, Emilia’s Restaurant, Mario’s Restaurant, San Gennaro Ristorante, Estrellita Poblana III and Gurra Café all have outdoor dining on the street and there’s an Arthur Avenue Retail Market to peruse. This year, The Belmont 4, a local acapella group, will perform outside restaurants during the opening weekend in May as well as on the last weekend of every month.

Willis Avenue

Between East 147th Street and Roberto Clemente Plaza, Willis Avenue is a haven for locals between 10am-8pm with street dining and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it hosts games, pop-up stations with arts & crafts and live salsa music between 2 and 5pm.

Brooklyn

Tompkins Avenue

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Between Gates Avenue and Halsey Street, Tompkins Avenue is open to pedestrians every Sunday from 11am to 7pm (starting May 8) and regularly has a vendors market, live entertainment (fashion shows, dance, drumming, face painting), a DJ, food and drink, clothing swaps, games (Giant Uno, tee-ball), an outdoor gym and yoga series and more every week. The open street is so beloved it has its own hashtag, #TAMASunday after the Tompkins Avenue Merchant Association that organizes them with other local organizations.

5th Avenue (Park Slope)

Fifteen blocks, between Bergen and 16th streets, is closed off and made into a street fair by the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District each Saturday from April 23 to October 29, and Sundays in May and June. Since July 2020, “The Other Fifth” has been holding myriad events to take advantage of the space. These and more will be happening again this year: an Art Stroll (May), the Fabulous Fifth Avenue Fair (May), the Brooklyn Pride Fair and Twilight Parade (June), an artisan market (June), movies on the 4th Street Plaza every Saturday (July), a 1980s disco, a salsa party (August), the Bindlestiff Circus (fall) and a Kids’ Variety Show (fall). The BID is currently raising money to offer these and more events right now at donorbox.org.

Vanderbilt Avenue

Vanderbilt Avenue is open to pedestrians between Atlantic Avenue and Park Place from April 1 through November 20 (Fridays 5-10pm, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays noon-10pm). Vanderbilt Avenue, operated by the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, is the largest volunteer-led Open Street in Brooklyn and has events every weekend spring through fall. From live music and parades to kids activities and art, Vanderbilt comes alive. It is also fundraising for its season at Gofundme.

Queens

34th Avenue

From 69th Street to Junction Boulevard, 34th Avenue has programming seven days a week, from distribution Mondays to kids’ arts & crafts on Sundays and volunteer gardening on Saturdays. It also holds outdoor fitness classes, holiday celebrations and kids activities on the regular. It’s truly a community resource. 

31st Avenue

Astoria’s 31st Avenue, between 33rd and 35th Streets, is open on Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 8pm and has a rapidly growing program that now includes an urban farm stand on Saturdays from the Connected Chef. There have been community barbecues, rolling book fairs, vendor fairs, live music, coat drives and pantry days.

Manhattan

Columbus Avenue

On Sundays from 11am to 7pm, Columbus Avenue (from West 68th to West 77th streets) comes alive during the warmer months (May 15-October 30). Pedestrians have access to free outdoor workouts, live music, kids’ sports classes, and other performing arts.

Avenue B

From East 6th to East 14th Streets, Avenue B adds even more activity to the already-busy East Village with daily traffic closures from 8am to 8pm. From the arts, including performance and live music, to yoga sessions and workout classes, Avenue B becomes the East Village’s hotspot when open.

Staten Island

Minthorne Street

This tiny road just steps from the Staten Island Ferry, is home to some tasty food and drink offerings Like Flour + Oak by Angelina’s with incredible wood-fired pizza and Flagship Brewing Co. that has more than 15 signature craft beers you can try in its 3,500-square-foot taproom. The unique street, from Victory Boulevard to Bay Street, regularly invites bands, climate groups and beloved organizations like Snug Harbor to its Open Streets days (Fridays, 4pm-noon, and Saturdays 11am-midnight).

The fifth annual Car-Free Earth Day—the yearly occurrence the weekend before or after Earth Day—is officially happening across all five boroughs on Saturday, April 23, from 11am through 5pm. (This year, Earth Day falls on Friday, April 22.) So check out which streets are celebrating and how right here.





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Author: Nigel