The driver has a history of drunk driving arrests, and though police are ruling out terrorism as a motive, the act is thought to be deliberate.
An 18-year-old girl who was walking with her 13-year-old sister has died and 22 others - including the young sister - were injured, four in critical condition.
The driver, Richard Rojas, 26, tried to flee from the car after ramming it into the side of a building, but he was tackled and has been taken into custody.
"Based on information we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at a news conference in Times Square, as reported by SMH. "We all feel deeply right now for those who were injured and for their families."
Rojas had been driving south around midday when he made a quick U-turn, mounted the curb heading the wrong way down a one-way street and started driving towards traffic.
Annie Donahey a pedestrian who had just left work said, "It was going at a fast rate of speed and to me it looked like it was trying to hit as many people as possible."
"People were trying to jump out of the way."
Rojas has been arrested for drunk driving twice and has also recently arrested for menacing, police said.
This article first published on Marie Claire.