A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 29, 2004
Play Street
A "play street" is a street closed to vehicular traffic so that children can play. "Play streets" -- cited in New York since 1915 -- usually are designated during the summer, when school is out.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
play-street_ a street closed to traffic so that children can play in it.
1937 C. V. GODFREY Roadsense for Children viii 64 Closing certain lesser thoroughfares to vehicular traffic and reserving them for the exclusive use of children...is how *Play Streets came into being.

17 May 1915, New York (NY) Tribune, pg. 6, col. 3:
"Play Streets"
In the establishment of what are called "play streets" the avowed endeavor of the People's Institute is to give "as free a rein as possible to the individuality of the child."

It is an interesting experiment, and if streets enough can be turned to account it may prove of inestimable value. The number of recreation grounds in the city is at present undoubtedly too
limited, and as summer approaches it becomes more and more apparent that what we need is not so much a free expression of juvenile individuality as a limitation of that expression to a suitable area in such sort that it may not interfere unduly with other and no less necessary activities.

There can be no doubt about the need of such reasonable restriction in the neighborhood of Washington Square, where the latest of these streets has been opened, and the secretary of the institute, Miss Ruth Robinson, is probably right in assuming that it will be unnecessary to provide the children with an instructor "to teach them how to play."
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • (0) Comments • Thursday, July 29, 2004 • Permalink