N, Q, R, L, 4, 5 and 6 lines, Union Square is what one could call an “intracity hub.” Thousands of people transit here every day, at the surface or underground (92,633 per day during the last week of February according to MTA data): students, workers, tourists, shoppers, street dancers and early-day joggers, and many, many more we don’t have time to list.
Our block (14th St. between Union Square West and 5th Avenue) sits on a mixed commercial and residential district. You will find almost every restaurant chain you can think of, a cupcake bakery, beauty bars, multiple shoe and clothing stores, and a particularly high-end gourmet supermarket. But the most striking feature of our block is the undeniably impressive 375,000 square-foot New School University Center, which hosts and brings several hundred students in the neighborhood every day.
This week, we wanted to focus on the biggest happening over the last seven days or so. Namely, the end of winter. Here is a snapshot of what a few days of warmth has done to Union Square:
We went from a freezing 14°F and 7.5 inches of snow to bright sun and the most comforting 54°F ever in only four days. And this is very observable in the foot traffic data from Placemeter:
It is rather intuitive that weather would affect foot traffic, but it’s always fun and interesting to verify with hard data. Gaze at how the temperature shifts are echoed by the traffic volumes.
Taking a look at weekdays and weekends averages, it’s easy to see that Union Square really is a hot spot in New York, where people go to work, study, but mostly visit and shop. Both weekdays and weekends have a rather slow start, but big steady 11:00 AM-7:00 PM pedestrian flows.
Here, weekdays peak at noon, versus 5:00 PM on weekends, an unusual characteristic we see at only the most vibrant places. Looking at these trends, one of the retailer on this stretch could decide to increase his staff between 4:00 and 6:00 PM on weekends to cope with the influx of shoppers, and then decrease it after 7:00 PM.
The directional foot traffic data shows that between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM on weekdays, people are going more toward Union Square, most certainly to catch their train to work. The same trend is even more visible on weekends, where people have a high tendency to walk from 5th Avenue toward Union Square from noon to 6:00 PM, showing the attractiveness of this major New York plaza. This is valuable information that could help retailers adjust and improve their strategies to convert more passersby into customers, like orienting accordingly street advertising depending on the time of day.