Theses Master's

Developing a New York City Open Streets Economic Impact Study Plan

Han, Sori

The New York City Open Streets program was first introduced in May 2020 as an emergency program and has become a permanent part of the New York City landscape. Since then, the program has been transforming many streets into public spaces by closing its corridors to vehicles through traffic and being open for pedestrians and cyclists. Open Streets has continued to evolve as a recovery tool to not only include outdoor dining, but also feature cultural programming, the ability to socialize safely, and other layers that promote the use of streets as public spaces. As existing studies have already proved, it is no surprise that the Open Streets program, like other public space programs and street improvement projects, has had a positive impact on the community economic development.

However, as the program has grown citywide in such a short period of time, there are no existing plans or tools to measure and evaluate the impact of the program on the surrounding businesses and the community. Although NYC DOT has evaluation tools for the past public space programs and street improvement projects, there needs to be a customized tool for the Open streets program as it has a number of distinct characteristics from the other programs. Furthermore, most of the existing tools for measuring the economic impacts of changes to street environments are weakened by their lack of quantitative methods or comprehensiveness. as they primarily focus on qualitative surveys of consumers and business owners.

While anecdotal evidences from business owners indicate that their sales improved by participating in Open Streets programs, quantitative data capturing the impact of Open Streets on local businesses, like how much consumers spend, will be key to developing and establishing a sustainable program. In this regard, working with the Regional Plan Association and Alfresco NYC, this capstone produced the Open Streets Economic Impact Study Plan to understand the contextual economic impact in both a qualitative and quantitative manner, as well as conducted an economic impact analysis on Amsterdam Avenue Open Streets to demonstrate how the impact study plan and tools can be used.

Geographic Areas


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2023-09-30.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Devlin, Ryan
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022