The avenues of Manhattan are some of the most famous thoroughfares in the world, counting 5th Avenue, Madison, Park, and The Avenue of the Americas among their ranks. But hidden between 6th and 7th Ave and running between West 57th St and West 51st St is a secret street rarely visited or recorded in tourists guidebooks: 6 1/2 Avenue.
Currently the only street with a fractioned number in New York City, 6 1/2 Avenue was given its official signposts in July 2012 by the Department of Transportation. The secret street was already well known to midtown workers who had long used the public spaces between 57th and 51st to cut through the city, avoiding having to walk around to 6th or 7th Avenue.
The thoroughfare is part of the over 500 areas in the city that are known as Privately Owned Public Spaces. These POPs originated in the 1960s when the city gave property developers incentives for creating public spaces as part of their new buildings. These privately owned public spaces usually took the shape of plazas, atriums, walk through arcades.
The 500 city POPs have received mixed receptions. Often the spaces are abandoned and make passersby feel as they were trespassing on private property and so the Friends of Privately Owned Public Spaces started an initiative to raise awareness, starting with 6 1/2 Avenue in Midtown. The Department of Transportation even created crosswalks and installed street signs to make it official. So next time you are strolling down one of Manhattan’s grand avenues, why not take a detour to visit one of its secret ones, just a literal half a block out of the way.
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