Broadway in Five Acts

Background: Broadway Connects Neighborhoods

Broadway serves as the heart of New York. In just 2.3 miles from Central Park to Union Square, it forms the spine of world-famous theaters in Times Square, loads of office space throughout the Garment District, delectable eateries in Koreatown, fashionable shops in the Flatiron District, and fresh food near Union Square. 

Broadway features five main "nodes" along its stretch: 

In these five locations, Broadway connects with other avenues to provide the nexus point of neighborhoods. We've seen noticable improvement in Broadway's pedestrian plazas around these squares, starting with Times Square in 2009. Yet current planning lacks cohesive ideas on how to design the space uniquely in each of these five different nodesand how to "interface" between them. The end result is similar pedestrian plazas clustered around these areas with little consideration to the "in-between" space. We're seeking to change that with the "Broadway in Five Acts" Plan.

The Broadway in Five Acts Plan

Each of the five nodes of Broadway becomes an "act" for the BLiP's progression through Midtown. Walking along Broadway today from Union Square to Columbus Circle, one experiences the different urban environments around them as they traverse the city. 

The Broadway in Five Acts plan seeks to enhance and define these urban environments within the streetscape itself. With smart and localized design, we can design park elements suited to each local node in lieu of copy-and-paste pedestrian plazas or restaurant seating. 

The transition zones between each node can creatively tie together these different acts with beautiful diversity. The strength of our city lies in how different people and places all come together -- we envision a Broadway that brings people and neighborhoods together in a smooth, connected green ribbon that shifts block by block. 

Keep reading to see what we have in mind to make each act of Broadway special and interesting. 

Union Square: Expression & Awareness

Union Square has always served as a gathering space for New Yorkers of all backgrounds to share their thoughts and organize events. Throughout the years so many protests have centered around Union Square as a shared space of expression, weaving advocacy into the fabric of the square. The climate clock that looms over the square, counting down the days until we surpass 1.5*C of warming, serves as a reminder of the importance of environmentally-friendly design. The greenmarket along Union Square West provides access to healthy, local foods for New Yorkers near and far. 

Given these existing uses, we think the following uses would suit the area as a part of the BLiP: 

Street Mural along 14th Street south of Union Square

Reference Photo: 14th Street Busway

Street Art Canvas

Union Square allows a space to speak one's mind, but what about painting it? Similar to the murals along the 14th Street Busway, the BLiP could devote space to formal and informal art installations along a block-long "canvas" to encourage expression.

Reference Photo: Battery Park Farm

Community Gardens

While the Union Square Greenmarket sells local produce, what if you could sell produce from down the block? Adding some community gardens could be used by local residents, businesses, and schools to promote sustainable community. All passersby would benefit from the permeable surface area and pollinators brought in by garden space. 

Reference Photo: The Highline

Recreation of the Wickquasgeck Trail 

Broadway follows the path of the Lenape Wickquasgeck trail, but nothing remains of the surrounding environment Natives cultivated prior to the European colonization of the corridor. Union Square serves as a space for advocacy but the built form nearby does not embrace all people, especially New York's Native Lenape population. Designing one block with Lenape design principles would allow an inviting space for Lenape people and a space to learn about their history for all. 

Madison Square: Art & Food

Walking north to the Flatiron District around Madison Square Park, food options abound. Restaurants abound on 23rd Street near Broadway, anchored by the expansive Eataly complex. Broadway from 25th to 27th Streets already lays claim to well-used open restaurants. Beyond tasty cuisine, art and architecture stand out in this section. Madison Square Park boasts many seasonal art installations. The buildings here form some of New York's more reknown with exquisite architecture, among them the Flatiron Building and New York Life Insurance Building. 

The following designs would suit the area as a part of the BLiP: 

Reference Photo: GetIMG AI

Live Art Showcase

With so many artist studios nearby, why not invite artists to a dedicated public space? A permanent easel setup in a section of the BLiP would 

Reference Photo: Maribor, Slovenia

Artistic Canopy

Public art doesn't have to be constrained to the ground - we can put it in the sky among the skycrapers! Adding an artistic canopy of lights above the BLiP would add ambiance and style to the corridor. Plus, it would improve visibility and safety.

Reference Photo: Varna, Bulgaria. Image courtesy of

Literary Block

A block of the BLiP could pay homage to New York's greatest writers. A local public artist comission would enliven the street space with local culture.

Herald Square: Fashion & Design

Herald Square forms one of the City's most vibrant shopping areas. Macy's dominates the area with many other clothing stores nearby. The Institute of Fashion and Design is just a block over on 7th Avenue, adding to the eccelctic fashion scene. Yet all of these establishments simply line the sides of Broadway and the environs. The plaza blocks near Herald Square are well-used for seating, live music, and ping pong, but the hyper local fixtures fail to make their way into the street design. Koreatown, for example, is relegated to 32nd Street, with little presence felt around the corner on Broadway itself. 

The following designs would suit the area as a part of the BLiP: 

Reference Photo: DALL-E 3 AI 

FIT Fashion Displays

Why should the latest fashion be restricted to store windows or classrooms? We could create a space for FIT students to display the latest and greatest in fashion for all to see in a display zone along Broadway. 

Painting by Noelle Hunter

Korean-Inspired Food Area

Koreatown thrives on 32nd Street east of Broadway, but abruptly ends on and west of Broadway. Broadway along this stretch could feature Korean food stands and Korean-inspired gardens and artwork as a combination of Koreatown and Herald Square. See our 32nd-31st Street case study for some ideas about this block.

Reference Photo: Bratislava, Slovakia

Water Features

Midtown Manhattan, especially around Herald Square, has some of the lowest concentrations of permeable space. Adding bioswales, rain gardens, and/or water features would add a touch of nature to the BLiP while increasing climate resiliency to intense downpours.

Times Square: Performance & Bustle

Described as the "center of the world," Times Square attracts tourists from all corners to its eccentric musicals and shopping. Previously an ever-congested bow-tie intersection between 7th Avenue and Broadway, DOT's work to create a pedestrian plaza from 42nd Street to 47th Street in the late 2000s transformed the area for the better. A pedestrianized Broadway excels here, so why not to the north and south as well?  Integrating this stretch of plaza into the greater BLiP would encourage visitors to explore more of Broadway and increase spending along the corridor.

New York should never stop dreaming, so we have some ideas on how to take this pedestrian plaza to the next level as a part of the BLiP as well. Below are some of our ideas:  

Reference Photo: Hollywood, California

Walk of Broadway Stars

The center of American cinema, Hollywood, has a walk of fame for actors, but the center of American theater has no public recognition of Broadway's great talents. A walk of fame would stretch multiple blocks and keep growing year after year.

Reference Photo: DALL-E 3 AI

Playbill Mosaic

Times Square lacks any permanent public art dedicated to the actors of Broadway. A Playbill mosaic on the ground or as a standing public art piece would pay tribute to the talent in the nearby theaters. 

Reference Photo: Columbus Avenue Open Street, Manhattan

Public Ampitheater

Why should great performances be restricted to expensive tickets indoors? Repurposing a block of Broadway between 47th and 52nd Streets as an amphitheater would facilitate public performances of musical excerpts or up-and-coming talent. 

Columbus Circle: Relaxation & Nature

Approaching Central Park walking north on Broadway, the hustle and bustle of Times Square dims as the park nears. However, the noise of car horns and tires detracts from the welcoming reprieve possible along Broadway in the 50s. Adding crafted natural spaces would provide a southern extension of Central Park into the heart of Manhattan for all to enjoy as a respite. This section of Broadway is a gateway from Central Park and it's pastoral charms to the clamour of midtown.  Broadway can mediate between these, as it is can bring together an urban street together with greenery and water features. Below are some ideas:

Reference Photo: Ljbujana, Slovenia rain feature

Microclimate Rainfall

Ever wished a light shower would come on a muggy summer day? With just a few water lines above the block, we could create a microclimate with controllable rain for all to enjoy! Other cities like Ljbujana, Slovenia, pictured above, have pioneered this type of fixture.

Reference Photo: A street in Vienna


Misters provide another form of relief from the urban heat island effect. Installing misters every block for this stretch would cool off passersby as they walk to or from the cool oasis of Central Park. 

Reference photo: Zurich, Switzerland

Bird Garden

Central Park is a birder's paradise, but just a few blocks south all you'll find is pigeons and sparrows. Crafting a "bird garden" would entice many species to venture south.

What's Next?

The "Broadway in Five Acts" part of the BLiP proposal is meant to spark discussion instead of providing a definitive plan. We'd love to hear your thoughts for what you'd like to see in the BLiP! Feel free to share them with us below.