A historic stroll down Summer Streets

The city tried out its interesting Summer Streets experiment this past Saturday morning, shutting out cars along Lafayette, Fourth Avenue and Park Avenue, from the Brooklyn Bridge up to 72nd Street. The result was a temporary respite from noise and traffic; you literally felt yourself puncturing a wall of sound upon re-entering the world of automobiles.

Beyond a playground for cyclists and runners, Summer Streets offered a couple historical treats. For once you could literally imagine what Park Avenue might have been like before the accepted crush of automobiles.

Here’s Park Avenue at around 52nd Street, with St. Bartholomew’s to your right

And here’s what the exact same area look like before 1922

In addition, pedestrians got to take a closer look at the Grand Central Terminal overpass, normally a traffic only thoroughfare. Sadly, the closest anybody’s had to really walking on this recently was Will Smith in I Am Legend

This is the first time most of us will ever be able to walk up to Cornelius Vanderbilt, standly stately at the entrance:

Within the tunnel itself, you can stop and notice (as opposed to whisking by) the withered ornamentation in the portals underneath the Helmsley Building

There are two more Summer Streets events to go, August 16 and 23, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. More information here.