IN NEW YORK:
Manhattan is, by definition, a noisy place to live in the summer months. Construction goes into overdrive and everyday traffic becomes more congested than ever.
So, imagine my surprise when I stepped out of our building on Park Avenue on Saturday, August 1st to something quite unusual – a pervasive and wonderful silence. No tooting horns or shouting drivers – just smiling people running, walking and biking straight down Park.
This was my introduction to Manhattan’s innovative “Summer Streets” program. On consecutive Saturdays in August, seven miles of New York City’s streets (from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park and Park Avenue) were open to the public between 7:00 am and 1:00 pm.
I’ve always thought that one of the great features of New York is its street life. It’s pure theatre and a visual treat. There’s always something to look at: shop windows, a cute puppy; listen to: snippets of cell calls or conversations; talk to: lost tourists, adorable babies or even respond to. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard positive comments about the flowers I’ve just bought. New Yorkers love their street life!
No honking of horns, no cars, no noise on Park Avenue
So it’s no mystery as to why this program has caught on the way it has. In 2014, more than 300,000 people took advantage of “Summer Streets” and, based on what I’ve seen, I’ll bet the number is even higher this year.
Of course, we’re not the only ones with this idea. For one month in the summer the “Paris Plage” program transforms the George Pompidou Expressway along the Right Bank of the Seine into a haven for Parisians. Believe it or not, a sandy beach and floating pools appear along with beach chairs, misting fountains and shady palm trees. New Yorkers take note!
Paris Plage in Paris, France
How did elegant Regent Street in London become a summer destination? Using imagination and creativity, it has turned into a traffic-free space with entertainment every Sunday in July.
Regent Street in London, England
Now in its fourth successful year, the program offers a different theme each Sunday, e.g., Culture Club, Health Kick, Garden Party, Fashion Festival. No matter what the designated name is, or what city it occurs in, the concept of creating an environment for people of all ages to enjoy in the summer months is a remarkable idea.
Of course, not everyone agrees. As I walked up Park Avenue I overheard a doorman say, “Yea, this craziness goes on every Saturday in August.” I was tempted to say, “Be nice. A lot of people are really enjoying this.” But I figured he might shout back at me and I didn’t want to disturb the peace.
MAY WE SUGGEST…
We’re heading for a change of seasons so isn’t it time you took a hard look at your wardrobe and filled in the gaps? Our layering tops go great with fall sweaters and jackets. Take a look.
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