envisioning a car-free future for New York's 42nd Street
42nd Street is New York’s welcome mat, its midway, and one of its strongest brands. Overwhelming in scale and clamor, the roadway connects popular New York destinations while connecting the region and the world through its major transportation hubs. But the potential of this storied avenue is buried under asphalt and stuck in traffic. NEW YORK FLOWS is RAFT's response to the Architect's Newspaper's Vision42 competition exploring how light-rail can transform the scale, atmosphere, function, and human experience of 42nd Street.
Historical perspective helps to see how the street of the future can efficiently move ever more people while performing critical new ecological functions within our rapidly changing climate. Pre-development, three streams converged near present day Times Square and flowed to a deep bay on the Hudson near 42nd Street and 11th Avenue. Manhattan was once host to over 300 fresh-water springs. At Tudor City, 42nd Street runs through a late 19th Century cut through the granite cliff before diving steeply to the East River. The 42nd Street Crosstown Line streetcar used to run along 42nd Street from 1st to 12th Avenues at a time when all the major streets in New York were teaming with streetcars. NEW YORK FLOWS remixes these natural and cultural histories to find new forms for the street.