Seats Beside 'Fearless Girl' to Be First Small Step in Future Streetscape Redo

Rendering of one of two benches that will flank the "Fearless Girl" statue, which faces the New York Stock Exchange. Inset shows the site today. Credit: WXY

Dec. 16, 2019

When it comes to costly, ambitious projects, you’ve got to start somewhere, and for the Downtown Alliance that means installing two uniquely designed benches that will flank “Fearless Girl.”

Proposed new $70,000 seating next to the famed statue is the first small step in realizing the business improvement district’s $70 million vision for enhancing and unifying the pedestrian experience around the New York Stock Exchange. Presented in May 2018, the entire plan covers eight blocks and calls for replacing the roadbed, curbs and sidewalks with a uniform paving surface. There also would be less intrusive security apparatus, new lighting and, of course, improved seating.

“If you walk down Broad Street and Wall Street today, it’s really apparent that there’s a need for better seating,” Downtown Alliance Senior Vice President Joshua Nachowitz told Community Board 1’s Landmarks and Preservation Committee last week. “People are sitting on the steps of Federal Hall, they’re sitting on the security devices, they’re sitting in the street.”

So the Alliance set out on a three-phase seating plan that it can pay for itself, without the city funding it is still seeking for the larger project. Once the design is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the bench installation opposite the stock exchange would be followed by benches in two nearby locations. A single bench would be installed at the south edge of Wall Street at Broad Street and three others are expected to replace concrete benches at Broad and Exchange Place. (The latter spot may change, Nachowitz said, if it is decided that “Charging Bull” will move there.) 

The benches, each with plantings, will be made of glass fibre reinforced concrete that Nachowitz said is lighter and less prone to chipping that the current furniture. Their design, by WXY, which is also the overall plan’s designer, is meant to mirror the unusual stepped curbs on Broad and Wall Streets.  Though the benches appear in renderings to be skateboarder heaven, there will be “skate stops” built in as deterrence, the Alliance said. 

The Broad Street benches will not only be conveniently positioned next to photo op-favorite “Fearless Girl,” but will “accentuate the existing view corridors, Nachowitz said, “giving people an opportunity to sit and contemplate, and to look at the stock exchange, Federal Hall and the iconic view up Broad Street.

The CB1 committee, which is advisory to Landmarks Commission, voted its unanimous approval of the design.