“Take us home through the Park, won’t you my good man?” That’s a movie line from more than one film set in New York City. It won’t be a valid one, going forward. A haven of peace in an otherwise hectic environment got a little more peaceful and a little less hectic this week. Per Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, New York City’s Central Park will no longer allow cars on the premises this summer. The car/truck ban takes effect June 27. This comes after more than a century of vehicular traffic, returning its roads to walkers, runners, and cyclists. The news was hailed in most circles as a positive step, but not everyone agreed. Gildshire, your go-to automotive news magazine since 2014, investigated the matter. Autoblog helped with the research.
The mayor was resolute in his remarks to reporters outside his offices at 253 Broadway. “This was not the purpose of this park, to be built for automobiles. Literally, it was built before there were automobiles. It was built for people,” de Blasio said.
More than 4.2 million visitors annually come to the park. It encompasses 843 acres between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side in the heart of Manhattan. Central Park, which includes event spaces, a boating lake, miles of walking and biking paths, and a zoo, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
Already, motorists and their cars were banned from traveling in parts of Central Park since 2015. The top loop drives in the northern section of the park were in the original prohibition. This new ban covers the entirety of the park, with the exception of four transverse roadways. They were included in the park’s original configuration to accommodate motorized traffic.
Naysayers to Mayor de Blasio’s plan include livery drivers such as taxicab operators and Uber drivers dismayed to hear they were going to lose a favorite shortcut.
“Oh, great,” said one Uber driver as he paused at a light on Center Drive. His passenger, a middle-aged man in a suit, stuck his head out the window to complain,
“This route is the best-kept secret in New York,” the passenger griped. “Was that de Blasio? He’s the worst!”
“You can’t please everyone.” A New Yorker coined that phrase. Bill de Blasio knows it is true, but he hopes with this historic move to please the people who breathe.