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The Future of East Midtown

East Midtown Manhattan is one of the world’s largest business districts, home to the nation’s greatest concentration of Fortune 500 companies and 250,000 jobs. The New York City Department of City Planning has recently released a proposal to upzone East Midtown’s office core, located roughly between 39th Street to 57th Street from 5th to 3rd Avenue. This proposal is meant to encourage the development of new iconic buildings, transform the city’s skyline, bring in tens of thousands of new workers, and in turn, secure the district’s prominence.

As February 2013 marks the 100th birthday of East Midtown’s celebrated Grand Central Terminal, now is an opportune time to re-think the future of the Terminal and the neighborhood that surrounds it. Although home to first-rate architecture, such as the Chrysler and Lever buildings, the neighborhood’s streets, sidewalks and open spaces have been neglected, becoming increasingly overcrowded and dreary.

City Planning’s proposal, along with major infrastructure improvements now under way in the area, including the Long Island Railroad’s East Side Access project and the 2nd Avenue subway, are expected to bring thousands more riders and pedestrians through Grand Central each day. In light of this, it is crucial to identify the neighborhood improvements that should be made in order to create a more welcoming public realm that will continue to draw businesses and people to the area.

MAS has a long history in East Midtown, most notably working with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to prevent the demolition of Grand Central Terminal in the 1970s. Over the course of 2012 and 2013 MAS will be engaging with the public and investigating critical issues, such as the public realm, historic preservation, sustainability and infrastructure in an attempt to answer the question, “What should be the future of Midtown?