Sidewalks are paths for pedestrians alongside a road. The primary function of a sidewalk is to provide for pedestrian movement and access to buildings, parks, and other destinations. Sidewalks also function as sites for loading and unloading vehicles, as places for outdoor dining and commerce, and as public meeting and gathering spaces. Sidewalks also serve as opportunities to locate other street improvements, such as stormwater management, plantings, and street furniture.
See Full Sidewalk in the Geometry chapter for more information about sidewalks.
The furnishing zone is the area of the sidewalk usually immediately adjacent to the curb where street trees, signs, above-ground utilities, and street furniture are typically located. Furnishing zones provide a physical buffer and a visual transition between the vehicles in the roadway and the pedestrians on the sidewalk, while also affording a clear area for organizing the various elements of street furniture that might otherwise appear cluttered. This area is generally 5 feet wide, or as wide as the tree pits along the blockface.
Furnishing zones are most appropriate on streets with at least moderate levels of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic — usually commercial shopping streets. Furnishing zones are best used when applied to entire blocks or a series of blocks comprising a corridor, rather than to sidewalks in front of individual small properties which would create a “patchwork” effect. Some materials in this chapter are exclusively for use in furnishing zones.
Issues with pavement heaving due to tree root growth in limited soil volume are common and expensive to repair. Where feasible, use of suspended pavement systems should be considered. Suspended pavement systems can be used with all of the sidewalk materials featured in this section.
All materials listed in this section may be used in permanent Pedestrian Plazas as well.
Mixture comprised of cement(s), aggregate(s), water, and other chemical admixtures, smoothed and then allowed to harden, forming a solid sidewalk surface.
Same mixture as unpigmented concrete, but with an added pigment for use in high-density commercial districts. Pigmented concrete can be treated with silicon carbide to add sparkle, making it a Distinctive material.
Same mixture as unpigmented concrete, but with an added pigment to simulate granite slabs or bluestone flags in historic districts, as per LPC guidelines, or in historic, non-landmarked neighborhoods, as per PDC guidelines.
Exposed aggregate, such as pebble-sized stone, can be added to unpigmented or pigmented concrete mixtures to create texture and increase the distinctive quality. Aggregates can vary in size and color to achieve different effects.
Asphalt precast into hexagonally shaped paver. This material is primarily used on sidewalks adjacent to parks, and conveys park-like character.
Historic stone unit paver with subtle variations in color, grain, and surface. The preservation and in-kind replacement of bluestone flags are typically required in new construction projects within historic districts; the installation of new bluestone flags is typically recommended in locations adjacent to existing bluestone.
Historic stone paver, with varieties of color, texture, and veining. Can be cut to extremely large sizes to span underground vaults. The preservation and in-kind replacement of granite slabs are normally required in new construction projects within historic districts; the installation of new granite slabs is typically recommended in locations adjacent to existing granite.
Historic smooth-finish granite block unit pavers often referred to as “cobblestones,” commonly used throughout New York City in the nineteenth century. This treatment is for use in the furnishing zone and may also be used in plazas within landmarked districts.
Precast, square asphalt or concrete pavers. This treatment is for use exclusively in the furnishing zone.
Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavers (PICPs) have voids at the joints to allow water to pass through into an open-graded reservoir below.
Concrete mixture using admixtures to allow a smaller amount of cementitious paste to coat the aggregate, and using little or no sand or fine aggregate, leaving substantial void content. This allows water to pass through to an open-graded reservoir underneath.