Crowds Throng Montague On First “Piazza” Day

I’ll confess: when this was taken (about 3 P.M.) a few desultory drops of rain were falling.

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  • T.K. Small

    This is certainly an interesting idea. I think there is a great deal of potential. However, the person/entity organizing things should ask that the restaurants maintain a path through the tables on the sidewalk.

    For people like me that use a wheelchair, hopping up and down over the curb is not an option. I do not mind going to the end of the street to get on the sidewalk, but where I wanted to go was blocked by the seating of two separate restaurants.

    Too bad the weather wasn’t better!

  • WaterBoy

    Must say I was less than excited about the way this turned out. Admitted the first day of what I understand will be a trial that will last a few weekends. But I was underwhelmed.

    Listen. I’m all in favor of a carless New York. I’m all in favor of pedestrian malls. And I’m all in favor of letting restaurants and merchants reach more people.

    But. And you knew there was going to be a “but!” I don’t think taking away oodles of parking spots and rerouting traffic was worth the results of letting people walk in the middle of Montague.

    I walked down Montague as they were setting up at about 9am; I went out again around 11am, I came back at 2pm and then went along Montague again at 5pm. And I think the above picture was highly representative of what I saw. The benefit to the few pedestrians, stores and restaurants wasn’t worth the inconvenience to everyone else.

  • Teddy

    It didn’t work out too well the first day. It’s a big difference compared to the permanent pedestrian zones in European cities where you have a lot of people shopping & eating in what was once streets opened to motor vehicles decades ago. I’m not sure if they should do this next summer.

  • anon

    I think the idea still has potential, BUT I would like to see more chairs and tables, and I will be curious to see what the next few Sundays are like on a non-holiday weekend when there are more people in town. Also, not sure they did enough publicizing because people didn’t seem to be expecting it to happen — when I walked around, there were more quizzical looks than anything.

    I also wonder if the stores on Montague just aren’t the right kind to make this work — when I think piazza, I don’t really think supermarkets, diners and chain stores.

    So, can we agree: A+ on idea, C- on execution? (much like the waterfalls)

  • anon2

    Montague Street is a relatively narrow street where the auto traffic moves fairly slowly. So with cars its just not that difficult to cross the street. The incremental benefits of keeping it car free are really minor. If you are driving across the Heights, there are also not many alternatives to using Montague Street due to the superblocks north of Pierreport.

    Contrast this to most Manhattan streets, and some of the Brooklyn avenues, where its often not possible to cross safely with the light due to cars turning onto the street quickly. The City should be looking at taking one of the Manhattan avenues and reserving it for pedestrians and busses, not a short shopping street where cars and pedestrians already coexist fairly well.

    The nearby Fulton Mall should also be a cautionary tale, that pedestrianizing streets should be approached fairly carefully. In many cases, it may drive away foot traffic.

    If the City wants to make things easier for pedestrians, more frequent traffic light changes would be a better place to start, followed by more thorough traffic law enforcement.

  • elvisIII

    Interesting idea, but this won’t work here. I don’t need a piazza to go to the bank, shop for some eyeglasses, head to the pharmacy, a grocery store, and then eat at a mediocre restaurant.

  • JGM

    These temporary piazzas usually work better in locations where there is actually people almost already spilling into the streets. Perhaps a better time would be on Wednesdays around noon to capture all the govt workers…they could set up eye tests and makeup stalls in the middle of the street…pehaps run an atm out there as well with a long extension cord…

  • Cranky

    I loved it. Couldn’t understand why more of the merchants didn’t set up little tables with samples, etc. Seems like it would be an ideal opportunity to snag potential customers – people who might not normally go into a local store.

  • Nelson

    Maybe this could work between Clinton and Henry or even Hicks, but let’s not bring the crowds into the block between Hicks and Montague Terrace. This just asks for more litter and it certainly does limit access to residents in this more residential block.

  • Bart

    I love the idea of streets that are closed to traffic. However, I’m very wary of turning Montague Street into even more of a “destination” than it already is. I like to sit on the Promenade on Saturday mornings and often is filled with garbage from Friday night. I shudder to think what the Montague Street would look like if it were a more permanent pedestrian zone, like the Fulton mall. I guarantee there would be a lot more trash on the streets. Think Court street between Montague and Remsen, what a dump.

    Essentially Brooklyn Heights streets are quiet enough that we don’t need to create pedestrian zones and the added garbage.


  • ratNYC

    I’m not sure all busineses on Montague would benefit from this. I frankly think some businesses would be hurt by this since it is my impression that a lot of people who shop/eat on Montague street drive from other parts of the city.

  • haystacker

    I agree with most of the comments. The experiment had potential but the underlying truth got in the way. Montague Street is just not that interesting. Certainly not interesting enough to get people dancing (or even sitting) in the streets. I applaud the effort to stimulate interest in shopping and eating in Brooklyn Heights, but the cool kids all know that the best places in the neighborhood aren’t on Montague Street.

  • Bob

    Got back to my Montague Apt at 6ish last night. Missed the piazza, but sure LOVED no cars on my block. A flash fantasy gone forever: few people, no cars, actual quiet.

    Love haystacker’s “cool kids” line. Spot on.
    No offense to Ricky’s, but it ain’t what we need here.

  • Ed H.

    Piazza Day? I live two blocks away and had no idea that this was going on. I walked right by it and saw the closed off street with about as many chairs and tables as your photograph, but it just looked like nothing was going on.

    Why weren’t there tables and chairs in the street in front of _every_ restaurant on Montague Street? Why wasn’t this advertised? Why weren’t there sample tables from the various small boutiques (like the post above suggests)? Such simple things would have made this event a hit, I would think.

  • Montrez

    I live on Montague. Late the night before the cops were out towing cars. I don’t think we can justify impounding those poor vehicles just for the lame-o right to walk in the street. It needed to be done better. It was busier the day before.

  • bornhere

    To me, it’s like a sad birthday party for the geeky kid with none of the invited kiddies showing up.