Car-free Newbury Street coming on Aug. 7
People will soon be able to roam free in parts of the Back Bay, without a car in sight.
City officials confirmed Friday plans to shut down Newbury Street to traffic for one day this summer, offering a pedestrian-friendly experience in the bustling shopping district.
The Open Newbury Street project will take place on Sunday, Aug. 7, according to a spokeswoman from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office.
Officials plan to section off Newbury Street from Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue — seven blocks in all. The road will be closed to vehicles from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. that day, according to details of the plan.
By doing this, Walsh hopes to create a temporary “pedestrian-only avenue for residents and visitors,” he said in a statement.
“I look forward to hosting this event, and encourage everyone to enjoy Open Newbury Street, showcasing all this iconic street has to offer,” Walsh said.
Earlier this year, Walsh tasked various city departments with coming up with “fun, new ideas” that would make public spaces around Boston more inviting to people traveling by foot.
“The Open Newbury Street project is a result of this,” he said.
Plans to turn the street into a place void of cars were first announced in May, during a town hall-style conversation with the mayor on Twitter.
The concept of turning Newbury Street into a pedestrian-friendly landscape was born from similar initiatives in cities like Paris, where Mayor Anne Hidalgo recently committed to closing off the Champs-Élysées one day per month to cars.
“The ability to let the public and pedestrians go in a place normally owned by vehicles . . . and not be hindered by traffic and worry about crossing the street is a good thing,” Jerome Smith, Walsh’s chief of civic engagement, told the Globe in May. “The mayor wants to see more people enjoying public spaces and being outside.”
The city is promoting the event using the hashtag #OpenNewbury on Twitter.
Walsh said in a statement that his office has received “a large amount of positive feedback” about the initiative from the community, and has worked since winter with businesses and residents.
Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, which works with and supports neighborhood businesses, said the group has long considered temporarily closing down Newbury Street to vehicles. She said she’s excited about the event, and has heard the same from many merchants.
“There really is a strong desire for it,” she said. “There’s a pent-up demand to experience public spaces like Newbury Street in a different way.”
She said she’s pleased that Walsh is “taking the ball, and running with it.”
But not everyone in the area has been receptive to the idea.
Joyce Hampers, president of the Newbury Street League, a nonprofit business association, said in a statement that the group was “completely baffled” by the city’s efforts to promote a car-free neighborhood for one day.
“Why would the city try something like this when it has been demonstrated that it will harm a majority of the businesses on Newbury Street?” she said. “It will cost the city resources, which we have been told they do not have.”
The city plans to meet with department heads next week to further discuss plans for closing the street.
“My office is also working with the local business associations and individual businesses to ensure every concern and suggestion is heard,” Walsh said.