Nosy Neighbor: Why was the Warren Street path through City Hall Park closed?

B. wrote with this report: “The northern gates to City Hall Park (which runs from Broadway and Warren through to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway station and Park Row) was locked off for the entire weekend. Meanwhile the southern gates were left open (where the fountain is). This seemed illogical, especially if it related to preventing people from gathering, as it naturally funneled people to only one part of the park, thus theoretically making it more dense. Not sure why this decision was made.”

This was a decision by the NYPD (not the Parks Department) after they discovered a lot of people gathering late at night on Friday on the benches on that pathway. Sergeant Mary Frances O’Donnell, a spokesperson for DCPI, said that route through the park closed Friday at midnight and was reopened Monday morning, and that likely that would be the deal for upcoming weekends as well.

The usual foot patrol at City Hall Park has been redeployed since so many officers (15 percent of the uniformed force) are out sick, Sergeant O’Donnell said, and keeping that patrolled was a lower priority. She also said that when people were asked to disperse, they resisted, so the department resorted to locking the gates. “It’s something we have to do for the time being,” she said. “I don’t believe it will permanent. It’s inconvenient, but for now we have to roll with it.”



  1. I think this is a really misleading answer by the NYPD. The park already CLOSES AT MIDNIGHT and the gates are locked then and reopened the next day. So the reason given, that they are short on foot patrols to cover the overnight hours is a complete fabrication. Even if that were true, what would be the reason for keeping the gates locked during the day? This strikes me as someone made a ridiculous decision and will now do the usual bureaucratic contortions to try to justify it instead of just fixing it. And neighborhood beware – she says she doesn’t “think it will be permanent.” Couldn’t even bring herself to just say it was temporary. Get ready folks. Your access to the park on weekends is going away.

    • I have never seen that path locked at any hour — and I come through there for the subway and by bike a lot.
      I did ask where the officer is usually stationed, since I have never seen a foot patrol through there, and she said there is a booth on the back of City Hall that they are not manning on the weekends at this point.

  2. Both sides of the park are normally locked between midnight and 6:00am, although I have found in my early morning walks over the Bridge that they are more often than not unlocked/opened by 5:00am.

    It would unacceptable to deprive the neighborhood of that open space on weekends. That park is not only an access route to the Bridge and the subway, it is also a peaceful and beautiful oasis to sit in and walk through, and if this is a ruse to somehow make it permanent we should raise our collective voices.

  3. Yes, it is normal for the park to be locked overnight (pre-pandemic) and usually opens before 6am so the dog walkers can let their dogs walk in the Pet Free zones. That is another story.
    I think the reasoning for closing the park lately is valid. If people aren’t going to listen to the rules, officials are doing what they can to keep us safe so everything can re-open normally in the future.

  4. When Rudy Guiliani was first elected mayor he had it locked all the time.

  5. People are not adhering to social distancing, so it’s a preventative, not punitive decision. Appears crime is on the rise and our neighborhoods have seen a fair share. Homelessness is exacerbated by the pandemic. Safety first. That corridor is dark, an open invitation for issues.

    • It’s already locked overnight, so the “dark corridor” argument is nonsense. Even if that wasn’t the case, that has nothing to do with it being locked during the day.

  6. It is locked during the day, which hasn’t happened since Rudy was Mayor.

  7. They are preparing for the revolt of the masses. Only a couple more weeks before new Yorkers start marching in streets to end lock downs. 596 jobs loss for every 1 death might be excessive

  8. Just pointing out. Be very prepared to live in a very different nyc.