Recommendations for Improving the Stock Exchange District

Letter to the Alliance for Downtown New York

July 25, 2018

Jessica Lappin, President
Alliance for Downtown New York
120 Broadway, Suite 3340
New York, NY 10271

Dear Ms. Lappin,

Thank you for presenting A More Welcoming Wall & Broad: A Vision for Improving the Stock Exchange District to our Preservation Committee on July 12. I am pleased to let you know that we generally support your proposal.

The area around Wall and Broad Street has long been recognized for its historic significance. However, prolonged construction has littered the streets with scaffolding and patchwork surveillance measures have disconnected the once united financial district.

The Downtown Alliance has acknowledged the need for a cohesive plan that recognizes the growing residential community within a dominantly commercial district. The district’s new land use patterns, coupled with the need for substantially enhanced maintenance and more coherent security interventions, present both challenges and opportunities for the future of the area.

While the Committee agrees that this eight block section of Lower Manhattan desperately needs attention, we believe the current plan is too broad to provide specific comments. Instead, we offer the following general recommendations:

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Intersection of Broad Street and Wall Street with New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall
Intersection of Broad Street and Wall Street with New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Arild Vagen.

Cohesive Design

The Preservation Committee identified the need to balance place-making in a district-wide urban design plan. The area is defined by its layered and constantly transitioning character. Therefore, globally sourced urban-design “best practices” would only produce generic uniformity, rather than a distinct place-oriented design.

Additionally, an overall consensus rejected any appearance of branding, based on the reality that the security zone is not co-terminus with the financial district nor the historic street grid boundaries. Committee members suggested that any future plans should attempt to reintegrate the security zone as part of the larger district, embracing its chaotic nature and avoiding sterile design schemes.

Maintenance

Due to the sheer number of people visiting the area, the Committee highly recommends that short and long-term maintenance plans be addressed. Significant garbage collection, general streetscape upkeep, and infrastructure repairs are important components to the functionality of this downtown neighborhood.

Resilience

The Committee also recommends that the long-term impacts of climate change and other environmental considerations should be incorporated into any future plans.

A More Welcoming Wall & Broad has the potential to be a model for other neighborhoods confronted with the convergence of numerous issues regarding security, tourism, residential transformation, as well as climate change and infrastructure maintenance.

We look forward to learning more as the project progresses.

Yours truly,

Elizabeth Goldstein
Elizabeth Goldstein
President
The Municipal Art Society of New York

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