Friday, February 13, 2015

Flatiron Plaza The New Times Sq? Roc Nation Closes Down Flatiron Neighborhood And Beyond

"Will the New Year's Eve ball drop here next?" -  Neighborhood resident

The de Blasio administration allowed the event to proceed despite strong opposition from the community and elected officials.  Emil Lissauer, the Deputy Executive Director of Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) tried to down play the expected crowd for the 10,000 ticketed event to closer to 6,000- 7000,   telling the Community Board,  "Its February, it'll be cold."   (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge.

Fans are penned in where Fifth Avenue and Broadway intersect.  The event drew thousands of concert goers to the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza across from Madison Square Park.  The Roc Nation event created havoc for the Flatiron neighborhood and beyond. 


By Geoffrey Croft

In the end it was all about Roc Nation. 

Shawn Carter's corporate event invaded Flatiron neighborhood Thursday night,  and apparently Jay Z has more power than the community and local elected officials.  

The poorly sited concert snarled traffic for miles during the evening rush, and infuriated neighborhood residents.

The controversial event featuring Roc Nation client Kanye West and drew thousands of fans who braved the freezing temperatures to the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza across from Madison Square Park.   

The commute home last night was a nightmare along Fifth Avenue as traffic was ground to a halt. Police prevented vehicles from traveling south on beginning at 34th & 5 Avenue.  

The stage show began with a five minute promo video featuring Roc Nation clients and its business portfolio.

Power 105.1 FM radio's Angie Martinez, a sponsor,  kicked off the show and thanked the Mayor for making it happen. 

"Can you believe we're in the streets," she said.

Billed as the 1st annual Roc city classic Kanye West performed 12 songs with an assortment of colleagues during the 45 minute set.

The show was streamed live exclusively on JAY Z's Life+Times.  Police stood guard outside his 40/40 club around the corner. 

The vile lyrics of Sean Anderson's - aka Big Sean -  "song"  I Don't Fuck With  reverberated off residential buildings and could be heard five or six blocks away. 

"The apartments were vibrating," said Debra Kletter, a dining consultant  with eatquestnyc who has lived who has lived in the neighborhood for decades.  

"It seems that NYC has become just one big corporate staging ground, there's no regard for people who actually live here. Why come to a tiny corner of a residential neighborhood and strangle it with 10, 000 people for a pop concert? No regard for neighborhood concerns. Will the New Year's Eve ball drop here next?"

Fans rushed past police and barricades and climbed atop Madison Square Park's Eternal Light Flagstaff veterans statue.  Fans also trampled planting beds, and perched themselves in a tree, and on top of fences to get a better views. 

Concert goers were separated into multiple pens between 23rd street and 25th street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway.  

Spectators lined the pathways inside Madison Square Park. 

Organizers directed the long line of prescreened concert goers on the side walk along the park's northern end. 

Large sections of the park were shut down and police closed all entrances and exits except for one on Madison Ave.    

Concert goers were separated into multiple pens between 23rd street and 25th street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway.  

Despite the limited access thousands of fans gathered in Madison Square Park. A 7-foot high green mesh lined fence erected supposedly to prevent the public from watching show from the green space proved ineffective as predicted.

A police officer stood at the entrance of the dog run which was open but lightly used. 

Towards the end of the concert fans rushed past police and barricades.  They climbed the park's Eternal Light Flagstaff veterans statue, trampled planting beds, and perched themselves in a tree, and on top of fences to get a better views.

Moments laster police had to close ranks as fans began to bring down a temporary fence that separated them from the event. 

Police outside Shawn Carter's 40/40 club.

As fans lingered after the show police ordered those perched on top of the park's perimeter fence to disperse.

 "Get off the fence, get off the fence, get down off the fence," police ordered.

No word yet if any damage was done to the park. 

For people trying to get home after work beginning at 6:00pm on Fifth Avenue and 26th Street police asked residents to show ID and visitors had to call their hosts to come down and get them.  

A half a mile away the public's frustration was palpable.   The police closed down all south bound traffic on Fifth Avenue and 34th street at 6:00pm creating a nightmare for tens of thousands of people during the evening rush.

On the corner police and traffic agents fended off  the same question over and over again, what was happening.  

"What's going on, is there an accident or something,"  a passer by asked.

"No,  they're having a  concert,"   a traffic agent replied. 

"You have to be kidding me," a frustrated driver told police. 

"Talk to the Mayor," an officer replied.

Some residents simply opened up their windows. 

“It’s kind of unbearable, ” said Terry Niefield who was forced to endure the noise from his apartment three blocks away. 

"I had no choice. If they are planning another one I say absolutely not."

Mr. Niefeld a neighborhood resident for 30 years described what he sees as an endless succession of commercial events  and programing in Madison Square Park and the pedestrian plaza.

"They are making the area uglier, louder and busier.  No one is asking for these things.   No one is  saying they want them in there, it's the people running these spaces.  The power of the purse speaks.

It's a neighborhood and these spaces should be primarily for people in the community.

He and others also specifically raised concerns about how the city was allowing the Madison Square Park Conservancy to operate the park.

"The Park is in a constant state of construction.  It used to be so beautiful, they're ruining it. Niefeld said. 

"The park is supposed to be an oasis of peace and escape but that's violated by such crass commercialism, "   Debra Kletter added.

 Much of the park was closed. Fans would later rush the barricades and past police to get better views of the event.

Bird eye view of the concert from the tree.

Fans stand on top of the park fence. For some reason the city thought erecting a fence with a green mesh would prevent or deter concert goers from doing this. Instead it only encouraged it.

Thousands of people lined the park pathways.

Sign of the times. All of the park's entrances  were closed except for one.

 Times Square or Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza? 

Is this an appropriate place to hold an event of this scale right in middle of a residential community.

 Office workers checking out the scene.

Concert finally begins.

Attendees in the back could watch the event on video monitor.

View from Above. 

5th Avenue & 34th Street. Traffic at a standstill.   (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge.

Read More:

WCBS - February 12, 2015 - by Tracee Carrasco

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