From the New York Times:
First came the bike lanes, creeping like overgrown ivy across the city streetscape.
Then there were the open-air pedestrian plazas, sprouting from the concrete in hubs like Times Square and Union Square to make the insufferable clamor of crosstown traffic a little less so.
Now, by summer, New Yorkers may find themselves in the throes of the Bloomberg administration’s latest roadside intervention: between-avenue stop signs, speed humps and pedestrian crossings along six blocks in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, forging what some have dubbed Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue.
The Transportation Department plans to connect the public plazas and arcades that run from 51st to 57th Streets, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, creating a quarter-mile walkway through open-access lobbies and canopied spaces between office buildings that offers refuge from the tumult of the city’s main arteries.
Though midblock pedestrian crossings do exist elsewhere in the city, most notably near Rockefeller Center, the proposed stretch is on track to become Midtown’s only extended thoroughfare governed by an authority more often found in the suburbs: the stop sign.
For years, the passageway, linked by a series of privately owned public spaces, has been an open secret among the area’s inhabitants, presenting perhaps the most tantalizing jaywalking opportunity in the city. Residents can finish off a lunchtime sirloin at the Capital Grille on West 51st Street, take in a movie at the Ziegfeld Theater three blocks north and retire to West 57th Street for drinks at the Russian Tea Room without ever setting foot on an avenue. Soon, it seems, they will be able to do so legally.