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An temporary, experimental park in Manhattan.

An editorial in the New York Times gives a nod to the concept of testing large-scale (expensive) urban plans with temporary (inexpensive) installations. In regards to lawn chairs set out in Times Square during the recent pilot closure of midtown streets, the Times noted:

Actually, these particular chairs are temporary. Purchased for $10.74 each at a local hardware store, many of the original 350 are already starting to sag and show signs of overuse. But before anybody invests in more durable or attractive seats, the city’s traffic experts want to make sure the idea works. Even the joys of a large sitting area in Times Square are not an adequate trade-off for permanent gridlock.

If traffic is merely bad, as usual, the next step is to make the area a little more glamorous. By August, the seating areas are scheduled to be resurfaced. There are plans for sturdier chairs and planters are expected to replace the orange plastic barrels now being used to warn cars away.

Times Square’s experimental park is primitive, but for anyone who loves the lights of Broadway, it is the new best view in town.

(New York Times, 8 June 2009, A18, New York Edition)