Newly Renovated Streetscape Plaza Brings University and Local Neighborhood Together
On Tuesday, September 26, representatives from Yeshiva University and the City of New York along with elected officials and other guests held a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the newly renovated 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza on West 185th Street between Audubon and Amsterdam Avenues in Washington Heights. The $3.6 million project upgraded an existing pedestrian plaza to improve infrastructure and provide a safer and more secure location for community members and students of Yeshiva University.
Among those in attendance were Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University; Andrew Lauer, Vice President for Legal Affairs at YU; Phil Goldfeder, Assistant Vice President for Government Affairs; state Senator Marisol Alcantara; City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez; Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa; Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Eric Mcfarlane; Deputy Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar of the Department of Transportation; and Zach Sterman, president of the Yeshiva Student Union.
“The new 185th Street Plaza is a beautiful addition to our uptown campus,” said Dr. Berman. “The renovations create a great recreational space for the Washington Heights community and open up new opportunities for students from across the University to connect with each other in a casual environment outside the classroom.”
Speaking on behalf of the students, Sterman said, “Like our University, this plaza is a very dynamic place, the center of our campus where all our different paths in life physically and figuratively collide and form something much bigger than the individual parts.”
Located on YU’s Wilf Campus, the existing streetscape plaza has been converted into a series of small- and medium-sized gathering spaces. The redesigned space includes new features such as additional seating areas, moveable tables and ornamental street lighting. The plaza is lined with various trees and contains shrubs, perennials and ferns. The project also included the installation of new curbs, sidewalks, pavers and water mains.
The plaza was designed through a partnership with the DDC and engineering consultant company Dewberry. EnTech Engineering P.C. managed the construction of the project and Triumph Construction Corporation was on board as the contractor.
Many people connected to the completion of the project commented about the ways the plaza unites and enhances the University and the local Washington Heights community. The following are a few of their comments.
Rep. Adriano D. Espaillat (NY-13): “I commend President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman and Yeshiva University on today’s announcement to open the newly finished 185th Street Plaza at the university. Educational opportunity, intellectual and spiritual teachings rooted in Jewish tradition help further promote our togetherness and unity. The plaza is open to everyone and celebrates the diversity of the campus as well as the surrounding community.”
City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (District 10): “The newly renovated 185th Street Pedestrian Plaza adds to the charm of our neighborhoods, and improves the safety of pedestrian and bikers from Yeshiva University and the broader community. Uptown is where many cultures converge. This project demonstrates that when we all work together, we make a stronger community for all. I want to thank Yeshiva University, NYC DDC, NYC DOT, and many more for contributing to brighter open spaces in the city.”
New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara: “New Yorkers prize their unique ability to traverse their city on foot and by using public transportation. This project, which takes space for cars and reserves it for people, will build up the Yeshiva University community as well as the surrounding community by providing a space for everyone to relax outside, chat and meet each other. Projects like this will also help New Yorkers avoid the deadly effects of vehicle accidents, respiratory problems from exhaust, and other environmental hazards caused by excessive use of automobiles.”
Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa (District 72): “Today, Yeshiva University inaugurates its new pedestrian plaza right off their campus in Washington Heights, which will definitely serve as a desired spot for students and pedestrians to convene for different purposes and ease the day by connecting directly with Mother Nature. Pedestrians have always flocked to the streets of New York City. As fast as the city is, it is always comforting to know there are places to take a breather or to just break and relax while enjoying the view during a nice sunshine. It is an honor to see this project come to fruition as it will serve pedestrians a great deal.”
Department of Design and Construction Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio: “DDC is proud to cut the ribbon on this plaza with DOT and Yeshiva University, in support of the Mayor’s vision for an equitable and resilient city. This renovated plaza provides a safe space for the students at Yeshiva University and upgrades the infrastructure and local water service.”
Luis Sanchez, Manhattan Borough Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation: “We are proud to officially open this space for Washington Heights residents and students of Yeshiva University to enjoy. With greenery, movable furniture and a wide swath of space along 185th Street, we hope everyone benefits from the plaza for years to come.”