6 ½ Goes Bicoastal

Stop signs appear at each intersection of 6 1/2 Ave. | photo by Jennifer Kirby | post by Larry Clinton

When I first moved to Gate 6 ½, I thought I had one of the most unique addresses on the planet. Indeed, it caused confusion at the Sausalito Post Office and in computer programs all over the world.

But just recently my stepdaughter Jennifer sent me a photo of 6½ Avenue in mid-town Manhattan, so I had to check it out.

In 2012, a north-south pedestrian passageway running from West 51st to West 57th Streets between Sixth and Seventh Avenues was opened. It’s a quarter–mile corridor of privately owned public spaces, such as easy–access lobbies and canopied spots which are open during the day.

Each intersection along the thoroughfare has a sign that reads “6 1/2 AV” and the name of the cross street to officially mark the street name. The mid–block stop signs are unusual for Manhattan, and the fractional avenue name is a new idea for the city’s numbered street system according to the New York Times.

Sounds like the slow streets that are being established throughout San Francisco.

Reporting on the Avenue 6½ opening, the Times noted: “for years, the passageway, linked by a series of privately owned public spaces, has been an open secret among the area’s inhabitants, presenting perhaps the most tantalizing jaywalking opportunity in the city. Residents can finish off a lunchtime sirloin at the Capital Grille on West 51st Street, take in a movie at the Ziegfeld Theater three blocks north and retire to West 57th Street for drinks at the Russian Tea Room without ever setting foot on [a traditional broad] avenue.”

Gate 6½ Road got its moniker in the tradition of naming streets that led to gated entries to Marinship, Sausalito’s WWII shipyard, such as Gate 3, Gate 5 and Gate 6. Although we lie outside the Marinship boundaries, the naming convention was kept in place as the area was developed after the war.