March (Parking) Madness: The Epic Battle of Midtown 

It's Midtown Precinct North vs. Midtown Precinct South in this first-round battle.
It's Midtown Precinct North vs. Midtown Precinct South in this first-round battle.

This is the third first-round battle in our March (Parking) Madness contest. Brooklyn’s sidewalk-hogging 71st Precinct in Crown Heights took home the first contest on Thursday against their colleagues in Bath Beach. Polls will remain open all day in our second battle, pitting two Bronx precincts. Click here for that coverage.

The contest so far. Click to enlarge.
The contest so far. Click to enlarge.

It’s hard to be anything other than chaotic in Midtown, and that’s exactly the type of parking both Midtown South and Midtown North precincts bring to their respective neighborhoods, just 20 blocks apart.

Though a little more subdued in terms of blatantly illegal activity than some of their outer borough sister station houses, the officers of MTS and MTN are no stranger to dumping their squad cars, personal cars — and even cars that clearly have been involved in crashes — on the street, on sidewalks, in front of blocking fire hydrants, and in bike lanes. 

During a Wednesday afternoon visit to both precincts, Streetsblog saw enough placards, decals, and stickers denoting an affiliation with the NYPD to fill out the whole island of Manhattan. Officers had left their cars in public parking spots, on top of the sidewalk, and double-parked in the travel lane.

One of these two powerhouse precincts needs to advance to the next round, so which is more of a clusterf*ck?

Midtown South 

Just a stone’s throw from Penn Station, Midtown South, led by Inspector Robert O’Hare, is a perfect addition to the neighborhood. 

Like its northern counterpart, cars around the station house, which is bordered by W. 45th Street, Lexington Avenue, W. 29th Street, and Ninth Avenue, run the gamut of being parked on the sidewalk, in loading zones, in “no parking” areas, and even in the middle of the road.

Another tight squeeze for pedestrians to get past Midtown South Precinct.
Another tight squeeze for pedestrians to get past Midtown South Precinct.

One car parked in a truck loading zone had racked up nine speeding tickets and one red-light ticket since 2020, according to city records. Its owner had affixed an NYPD Auxiliary Training Unit manual on its dash, along with other decals and stickers noting its affiliation with the Fraternal Order of Police.

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Around the corner on Ninth Avenue, orange cones isolated cars that appeared to have been in crashes. The morass of trashed cars and cop cars made it impossible to tell where moving vehicles were supposed to go. 

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Since last year, there have been 977 total reported crashes in the precinct, causing 368 injuries, including to 96 cyclists and 147 pedestrians, and one pedestrian fatality, according to city stats via Crash Mapper.

Midtown North 

Around the corner from Gristedes supermarket, Midtown North is a dominating force on W. 54th Street. 

Despite having a parking lot in the back, Deputy Inspector John O’Connell allows his officers to leave their private cars and squad cars — including one that had obviously been through the wringer, with its mirror held together by rubber bands — wherever they please, Midtown traffic be damned. 

The precinct’s officers’ haphazardly parked cars sit alongside vehicles that appear to have been involved in crashes — including one whose entire engine was exposed. 

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For some reason, some NYPD cars were given extra protection — sandwiched between metal bollards and metal fences. Others were parked halfway on the sidewalk, several with license plates, forcing pedestrians to squeeze around them. 

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Even more egregious was a pile of trash in the driveway near the precinct — a sign that the precinct’s cars aren’t moving to allow DSNY trucks to clean the curb.

A pile of trash outside the precinct.
A pile of trash outside the precinct house.

One small thing the station house can be commended for this year is not blocking the protected bike lane on Eighth Avenue. But hold the applause — the precinct’s cars were still parked carelessly everywhere else on the roadway, including literally in a lane of traffic.

Good job? Officers are not parked in the bike lane.
Good job? Officers not parked in the bike lane.

The precinct is no stranger to reckless driving. Since last year there have been 1,113 total reported crashes within the precinct, which is bounded by the west side highway, Central Park south, W. 44th Street, and Lexington Avenue, causing 555 injuries, including 146 cyclists and 162 pedestrians, and one motorist fatalities, according to city stats via Crash Mapper.

So who’ve you got — the trash-friendly, Alternate Side Parking-averse officers of Midtown North, or their street-cum-parking lot pals to the south?

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