Park Avenue/125th Street Public Realm

Last Updated June 09, 2015

NYCEDC is uniting community stakeholders, business & property owners, and public agencies around a shared vision and implementation strategy that transforms public space and improves walkability around this important Uptown transit hub.


The intersection of East 125th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem is part of a major intermodal transit hub comprising a Metro-North Railroad station, the 125th Street Lexington Avenue Line subway station, and several bus routes including the M60 to Columbia University and LaGuardia Airport. When Phase 2 of the Second Avenue Subway is complete, the new line’s northern terminus will be located in the vicinity of 125th Street and Lexington & Park Avenue.

However, despite the abundance of transit options providing easy access to and from the area, significant challenges remain. A combination of chaotic traffic patterns, a dark and unappealing streetscape, and a lack of pedestrian amenities around the station combine to make this place less than what it should be: A center of activity on 125th Street and a worthy gateway to Harlem. At the same time, empty spaces under the Park Avenue Viaduct and underutilized sites along Park Avenue present a remarkable opportunity for placemaking and transit-oriented development.

This initiative, launched in early 2013, aims to create a consensus-driven framework for targeted improvements to the public realm that maximizes the value of transit, promoting new development that creates jobs and housing. Specific objectives include enhancing pedestrian safety and mobility around the Metro-North station; providing much-needed amenities for residents, workers, and transit riders; and partnering with local stakeholders to develop cultural programming and attract private investment for commercial development that activates and enlivens spaces under the Viaduct.

NYCEDC is working closely with the NYC Department of Transportation, the MTA/Metro-North Railroad, Manhattan Community Board 11, and an experienced consultant team to identify, prioritize, and pursue public and private funding to implement the public realm improvements. Preliminary concepts for improvements in the categories of circulation and pedestrian amenities were presented in August 2013 and recommendations were finalized and presented in December 2013. Design of the pedestrian safety and plaza improvements will begin in the Summer of 2014 and continue through the end of the year.

Public Outreach

Stakeholder input is crucial in order to identify public realm challenges and develop the best solutions. In order to engage a diverse and representative set of stakeholders, a community working group was formed that has actively contributed to the development of the Park/125 Public Realm Project since its inception. The community working group includes:

  • Community Board 11, neighborhood organizations, and tenant associations;
  • Elected officials;
  • Economic development groups, planning advocates, and community development corporations; and
  • Local businesses, property owners/developers, and educational, medical, cultural, & religious institutions.

The community working group has met three times: April 2013, August 2013, and December 2013.

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