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Stacy Wang

POPS-Hopping in Midtown Manhattan

By: Alexander Alvarado, Jose Sabal, and Stacy Wang

Walking on the busy streets of Manhattan, you may come across an unusual scene of New York pedestrians leisurely lounging around, perhaps reading or having coffee. It can sometimes be accompanied by an atypical amount of greenery and copious seating arrangements. These scenes usually take place in small nooks and crannies in the city and may seem like an odd, but welcoming contrast to the otherwise gray and utilitarian streets of New York. The nooks and crannies described are likely to be public parks and squares, but it is also just as likely for these spaces to be private property. These are quite simply referred to as privately owned public spaces (also known as POPS).

An entire afternoon was devoted to trekking across the city to look for and then examine different privately owned public spaces (also known as POPS) in the area. POPS are spaces maintained and owned by a private entity for the general public to use. In exchange for maintaining the public space, the entity is granted rights by the city to build additional floor area beyond standard zoning capacity for their own private use. POPS are scattered all throughout New York City, but are generally more concentrated in the midtown and upper east sections of Manhattan. Read more…