Volume 16, Number 11 | Aug. 12–Aug. 18, 2003

Planters around stock exchange
look better, but are for security

Greenery is cropping up around the New York Stock Exchange, part of a public and privately funded effort to make the area more attractive even as it remains under high security.

Workers have begun installing planters on Broad St. and some surrounding streets. Money for the planters comes out of the $156 million released last week from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, with additional funding from the Downtown Alliance. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is overseeing the makeover of the stock exchange area.

In some cases, the planters replace the much-reviled concrete barriers that have been a fixture of the area since Sept. 11, 2001. In others, the planters restrict travel on parts of road that had previously been open.

Many area workers cheered the arrival of the planters.

“They’re sorta decorative — it brightens it up a bit,” said a 70-year-old financial worker who declined to give his name but said he had worked in Lower Manhattan for a half century. The planters are “more human” than the concrete barriers, which “give you the impression of a cell block in prison,” he added.

Others agreed.

“I was hoping before the convention next year the mayor would clean up the streets and make it look as nice as possible,” said George Mauro, who works in the area. “It’s pretty ugly right now.”

Nine new planters dot Nassau St. between Pine and Cedar Sts., with pairs placed on alternating ends of the street so cars must zigzag down the block. Financial District workers said they first noticed them last Monday morning. That stretch of road had been open before, people said.

The Nassau St. planters are only the beginning, said a New York Stock Exchange security officer who declined to give his name, saying that he was not allowed to give interviews.

“You’re going to find them all around — there’s a lot more coming,” the officer said.

The officer said that planters placed on either end of a street make cars slow down to about five miles an hour, limiting the ability of a car to speed up to the stock exchange on any sort of terrorist attack, such as a bombing. Planters will likely be placed on all streets leading up to the exchange, the officer said. Under consideration for the area in front of the exchange are metal security grates that are installed on the street and can be raised and lowered, the officer added.

A spokesperson for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation said that specific details about the number and location of planters were still being worked out with the New York Police Department to ensure that plans conform to the area’s security needs. A stock exchange spokesperson did not provide more information by press time.

While most workers in the area said they would be glad to see the concrete barriers depart, not everyone will be happy to bid them goodbye.

Avel, a worker at 55 Broad St. who declined to give his last name, was leaning against one of the barriers last Thursday while taking a smoke break.

“I like these better,” Avel said. “You can sit on them.”

Elizabeth O’Brien


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