Streets Ahead is a year-long effort advancing ideas and proposals to envision a more vibrant, equitable streetscape. Over the past year, the Forum has hosted field studies, local dialogues, and international exchanges to catalyze new ideas for New York’s streets.
The last two years in New York have shown the tremendous capacity of our city streets.
As the City was struck by COVID-19, we saw seismic shifts in the fabric of our neighborhoods. Street life suffered as New Yorkers stayed home, e-commerce soared, businesses and bustling retail corridors shuttered, and transit emptied. Yet neighborhood streets became a site of support for New Yorkers. Mutual aid networks distributed food and activated community fridges. Demonstrators marched in support of the Movement for Black Lives. Artists memorialized friends and neighbors lost. Our streets also became sites to socialize, dine, exercise, and play.
We show our values on our streets.
In one of the most densely populated cities in the country, our streets are our greatest opportunity for public space and public benefit. We believe that equity means that every New Yorker has safe and dignified streetscapes, healthy and reliable transportation options, and accessible public amenities like libraries, schools, parks, and healthcare facilities.
To achieve this, we decided to catalyze new ideas for New York City streets in 2023 and 2030. We wanted to illustrate what could be done under the leadership of a visionary two-term mayor, and what could be done tomorrow.
Five Routes to a Thriving City
In May 2022, we released our platform of ideas, Five Routes to a Thriving City.
Created in collaboration with Working Groups of nearly 50 New Yorkers, these ideas envision New York’s streets through the lenses of Commerce, Culture, Climate, Care and Continuity to inspire our City to think big for the future of our streets. This platform is meant to serve as a hopeful provocation and a tool to work together to achieve the city we want to live in. Join us in imagining the future of New York’s streets and in charting the path forward.
Streets can help revitalize our city’s small business community and support the economic recovery of the city.
Streets can support cultural expression and creative activation.
Streets can help New York City confront the climate crisis.
Streets can center safety, care, and healing for New Yorkers of all ages, races, and abilities.
Streets can build connected communities.
How We Worked
In May 2021, we released our Streets Ahead Call for Action. We asked our Fellows: How can we transform streets to build connected communities? Following the Call for Action, we convened interdisciplinary Working Groups to advance a set of visionary proposals and tools for a more vibrant, equitable streetscape.
Meet our group of designers, planners, artists, and advocates with extensive experience shaping the streetscapes of our city.
To celebrate the closing of the series, our Co-Chairs reflected on the convening power of our initiative, and new possibilities for the future of our streets in “The New Story of Our Streets.”
About Next New York
The Next New York series is an annual inquiry into a defining issue facing the city.
Each year, through local dialogues, international exchanges, and interdisciplinary working groups, we work to catalyze new ideas for New York’s built environment. Ideas that emerge inform programs, collaborations with city agencies, and pilot projects to inspire fresh thinking for the future of the city.