622 3rd Avenue — 66.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The indoor portion of this privately owned public space (POPS) is tolerable, barely.   A POPS is “an amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  POPS can vary in quality, but the covered public spaces tend to offer more amenities, like cafes and public restrooms, and they tend to be better maintained.

The covered POPS at 622 3rd Avenue is, essentially, the lobby of an office building, and it is not used much by the public for good reason.  There were some stone benches for the public to use, but the absense of softer surfaces or materials–everything was glass or stone–made the space an echo chamber.   The space was so live that the sudden chatter of workers leaving the lobby elevators was startling.  So this public space could be useful if one had to escape a sudden storm, but 622 3rd Avenue is not a place to linger or enjoy.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The nearby outdoor POPS looked nice, though, and there are tables and chairs for public use in the  adjacent court yard.  There is also a second level terrace that’s the public may use, and an elevator is provided for access by the physically disabled.

Unlike other covered POPS, the public space at 622 3rd Avenue does not provide public bathrooms.   In short, the indoor POPS will serve in a pinch but it is less than inviting.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Landscaped Terrace w/ access for disabled open same hours from April 1st through November 1st, but weekdays only from November 2nd through March 31st (winter hours)

LOCATION

622 3rd Avenue (at 40th Street), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

APOPS/MASNYC’s review of 622 3rd Avenue

Elizabeth Street Garden — 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a really peaceful enclave in Nolita?  Then run, don’t walk, to Elizabeth Street Garden.  The garden’s future is uncertain, so use its now and help those who are trying to preserve it.   The garden is the biggest green space in Nolita and, unsurprisingly, it is under threat of development.  Unlike other green spaces, Elizabeth Street Garden is not a city park though the land is city-owned.  We hope that it is preserved, because it’s a calm oasis in the middle of busy downtown Manhattan.  It also stands out among neighborhood green spaces because of all the statues that are dotted throughout.  At first the effect suggests a lack of restraint, but it very quickly feels charmingly quirky.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is obviously well loved and used.  There aren’t many chairs or benches, but people make do and have impromptu picnics during their lunch breaks. Some traffic noise intrudes, but it’s more than manageable as the garden runs between Elizabeth to Mott Streets, mid-block. Neither street is heavily trafficked, so there was no honking horns, sirens, or motorcycles during our visit.

Crowded yet calm, Elizabeth Street Garden is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting

LOCATION

Elizabeth Street (betw. Prince and Spring Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Elizabeth Street Garden

601 Lexington — 68.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The atrium at 601 Lexington (formerly known as the Citigroup Center) is a covered, climate controlled privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is “an amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  POPS can vary in quality, but the covered public spaces tend to offer more amenities, like cafes and public restrooms, and they tend to be better maintained.  The atrium at 601 Lexington is no exception, as it offers plenty of amenities for visitors.

There are lots of tables and chairs in the multi-story atrium, which is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and delis.  But as with all POPS, you don’t have to buy anything from the commercial spaces within the public space to use the amentities.  In fact, you can bring in your own food or beverages and use the tables and chairs that are provided.

The plaza outside of the building is also available for public use 24 hours, but it’s uncomfortably loud during the work week due to street noise and a really noisy water feature.  The atrium, in contrast, was serene even though more than half of the tables were taken, no doubt due, at least in part, to its height.

The public space is served by large and clean bathrooms.   The only drawback is that the restrooms use the dreaded and LOUD Xcelerator hand dryer and there is no alternative hand drying option.

If you want to rest your feet, have a coffee, or just stop to relax somewhere in midtown, 601 Lexington is an excellent option.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

601 Lexington Avenue (betw. 53rd and 54th Streets), New York, NY 11022

WEBSITE

NYC POPS Info on 601 Lexington