Play Streets

Program: Play Streets
New York, New York
Streets are temporarily closed to traffic to create new places for play

Play Streets partners: City of New York / Health & Mental Hygiene, Transportation, Parks & Recreation, and Education; Transportation Alternatives; local schools and community-based organizations

Program summary: Play Streets offer a low-cost way for neighborhoods and schools to create more space for active recreation. The program helps neighborhood organizations and schools identify streets that can be closed to traffic for certain periods of time, in order to create new outdoor play spaces.

Community Play Streets are sponsored by local community organizations, and operate throughout the summer months. Nineteen community Play Streets were permitted in NYC during the summer of 2012 with assistance from the Health Department and partners, offering programming such as running groups, dance classes, yoga, and soccer workshops, and simple equipment like jump ropes and hula hoops for unstructured play. During the summer of 2013, the Health Department assisted fourteen community organizations with obtaining Play Street permits.

School Play Streets are designed to create active space for schools with limited or no access to a gymnasium, multi-purpose space, or outdoor recreation facilities. Many schools in the city do not have adequate space to meet the State Education Department’s requirements for physical education and physical activity and a Play Street can help to address this issue. Fourteen NYC schools obtained Play Streets permits for the 2012 - 2013 school year, with assistance from the Health Department and partners.

Active Design Highlights:

1. Streets are converted to temporary recreation spaces for children and families.

2. Programming organized by local organizations builds a sense of community and encourages more vigorous physical activity.

Additional details are available here.

  • User Side Images Image 25
    Children playing at a fire hydrant during a Staten Island PlayStreet; Photo Credit: NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Minority and lower-income people are more likely to live in neighborhoods with lower-quality sidewalks, fewer parks and recreation resources, and more danger from crime and traffic.

  • Less than half of US children meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day.