November 23, 2015
La Plaza de Las Americas has created a town square for the Washington Heights community, transforming 175th Street between Broadway and Wadsworth into a 14,000 square-foot pedestrian space. DDC Commissioner Peña-Mora was joined by DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, along with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Senator Adriano Espaillat, and many other members of the community, to celebrate this centerpiece of local cultural and economic life. The plaza was designed to enhance the market, providing vendors with access to electrical power and water for the first time since they started assembling in 1994. Now, the vendors and community will have multiple amenities, including pedestrian lighting and benches, trees, decorative paving, a storage/utility column, an automatic public toilet, and an fountain created through the Percent for Art program by artist Ester Partegás, celebrating the plurality and richness of cultures that make up La Plaza.
La Plaza was awarded in 2008, during the first round of the NYC Plaza Program, thanks to the hard work of the Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC), who applied with the vision to solidify the space that has long been used as a community marketplace, despite the fact that it was only an asphalt street without public amenities.
Together, DOT, DDC and NYCDCLA worked closely with the community, conducting interviews, and public sessions to ensure the new plaza design met their needs. Now, the space can accommodate community events during the day and evening, ranging from art shows to performances, as well as craft fairs along with the regular marketplace.
“DDC is proud to have partnered with the New York City Department of Transportation, our elected officials and community stakeholders for the ribbon-cutting of Plaza de Las Americas, noted Commissioner Peña-Mora. “The reconstruction of this new plaza will offer a unique opportunity for the community to enjoy a safe, high-quality open space while providing upgrades to infrastructure facilities. DDC is committed to Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthy and sustainable city and to building well-designed, safe environments that enhance our communities and contribute to the City’s growth.”