New York City's Open Streets program kicked off in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide more outdoor space for residents stuck at home. As the pandemic stretched on, the open streets became a political flashpoint, especially 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens.
The closures stretch for 1.3 miles in a residential neighborhood known for having little in the way of parks and public space. Where vehicles once drove, children play and adults gather for socializing and exercise. It's been embraced by local politicians and advocates for pedestrian rights, and called the "gold standard" of Open Streets by New York City's Department of Transportation — but not all neighbors welcome the change.