Last year it was dumpster pools, this year it’s a zip line. The New York City Department of Transportation unveiled an 160-foot-long zip line at Union Square Tuesday morning, a preview of what’s to come at their annual Summer Streets events this August.
“I rode it this morning,” chirped DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, nodding towards the zip line that stretched from east to west along the 17th Street-side of the park. “Look, you don’t need a cup of coffee, just ride the zip line!”
The zip line was only up from 7 a.m. to noon this morning, before it was taken down. But it was briefly open to the public for part of that time and dozens of New Yorkers got to try it for free. They signed a waiver, were strapped into a harness and off they went.
Fahim Saleh heard about the zip line from his friend on Facebook and brought along two co-workers during their lunch break.
“I thought it was going to be building to building,” Saleh laughed. “I totally thought I’d be swinging into somebody’s office.”
Unlike other zip lines, the Union Square one descended from a tower and ran down to the ground. Riders had to walk up a steep set of stairs to the top of a platform where a zip line operator from Fantasy World Entertainment would attach their harness to the line.
After instructing them how to position their body on the way down, the operator would let the person go and they would slide down to another operator waiting to catch them on the ground.
“I only wish it lasted longer,” said Saleh’s co-worker, Matt Spencer. “But we’re going to go back to work and show the video to everyone!”
One of the youngest to ride was a 6-year old named Jared Frith, who saw the zip line from across the street while walking with his babysitter, Jaquelyn Puma.
“We were going to go to Chelsea Pier today but he saw this and wanted to do it,” said Puma.
When asked if he had been afraid of the towering zip line Frith simply crossed his arms and shook his head no.
“He’s not afraid of anything,” assured Puma.
The zip line was free of charge and open to the public starting at 7 a.m. The 40-person-long line to zip down across Union Square never shortened, despite some rain. Even once the operators shut it down at noon people anxious to try it out had to be turned away.
Zip line will be back this summer
Don't worry if you missed it this morning. Anyone who missed the fun will have a chance to check out the zip line when it returns in August. As a part of NY DOT Summer Streets events, New Yorkers will have a chance to channel their inner monkey on the zip line the first three weekends of August. It will be erected at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan on those weekends.
Other summer streets events will include free helmet fittings and give-aways, picnicking, dance classes, and a 75-foot climbing wall, spread out across 20 different neighborhoods stretching from upper Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Parts of Park Avenue, 4th Avenue, and Lafayette Street will be closed to all cars from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. with these and more events on August 4th, 11th, and 18th.
“The streets are for everyone,” said Sadik-Kahn. “It’s a great way for New Yorkers to get out and see and enjoy the city in a different way.”