THE DEVELOPMENT OF PERSHING SQUARE PLAZA
When Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, ramps carrying traffic around the landmark were built to complete a vehicular link along Park Avenue. The elevated ramp approaching the south side of the Terminal interrupted a previously open space on the south side of Park Ave. and 42nd St., known as Pershing Square - named for noted World War I hero General John J. Pershing (1860-1948). Later, two arches beneath the bridge were walled in, leaving Park Ave. with two disconnected vestigial arms to the east and west.
Recognizing the value of this historically underused space, GCP first proposed the transformation of the structure into a restaurant and the construction of a permanent plaza at the site as a "gateway to the city" as an integral part of its Master Plan for the Grand Central District in September 1987. GCP accomplished the first phase of this initiative when it entered in a lease arrangement with the City of New York to develop a first class restaurant within the viaduct structure. GCP solicited proposals from noted restaurateurs to develop the site, and in September 1997, entered into a sublease with a firm headed by noted restaurateur Michael "Buzzy" O'Keeffe (Water Club, River Café) to develop the Pershing Square Café. After over $4.2 million in capital investments by GCP and PS Development, LLC, the Café opened its doors for business in fall 1999.
GCP's dream to transform the Pershing Square Plaza West site adjacent to the Café into an attractive permanent pedestrian park at the entrance of the Terminal was met with opposition for more than two decades, resulting in the subsequent creation of a popular seasonal street activity at the site. But GCP's vision for the pedestrian plaza was revived in 2009 when GCP was selected by the city to participate in the NYC Plaza Program, an innovative initiative to recapture and maximize the use of underutilized public space throughout the five boroughs.
PERSHING SQUARE PLAZA WEST OPENS TO THE PUBLIC IN SPRING OF 2019
In the spring of 2015, the New York City Department of Design and Construction began construction on the conversion of Pershing Square West to a permanent pedestrian plaza, and the plaza opened to the public at the end of May 2019. GCP monitors the plaza like it does the rest of the district's streetscape, providing basic BID services. GCP has also offered programming in the space, including a series of Saturday concerts in the summer of 2019.
PERMANENT BUILD OUT OF PERSHING SQUARE PLAZA EAST IS UNDERWAY
In the spring of 2019, the New York City Department of Transportation implemented an interim surface treatment in Pershing Square East, including a temporary surface and granite blocks placed for security. Concrete planers were also placed along the street and planted by GCP. The design phase for the permanent build-out of Pershing Square East is nearly complete.