Our work at NYC Play Streets

Play Streets NYCPlay streets are a tradition in New York City. They are exactly what they sound like—streets closed to traffic for play, usually during summer when school is closed. For a time, when we first began working at play streets in 2013, the number of play streets seemed to be growing in NYC, thanks to support from the city’s health department and work by Transportation Alternatives. However in recent years, we’ve witnessed the closing of many of the city’s summer play streets in favor of more structured and controlled environments. Others have noted this as well. And just like adults, children appear to be spending more of their free time at home in front of screens. Despite this, we want to continue to support play streets because we believe that city children need space for unstructured, spontaneous, voluntary play.

In 2018, thanks to support from the Building Healthy Communities/ Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety initiative through the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, we were able to partner with the Police Athletic League to add playful learning opportunities to play streets at multiple locations across the city. We aim to expand this work in 2019.

Photos of our work at NYC Play Streets in 2018:

Uni Reading Room, East Harlem Play Street

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See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, E104th St, East Harlem, July and August, 2014.

Uni Reading Room, West Harlem Play Street

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See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, W136th St, West Harlem, July and August, 2014.

Uni Reading Room, Jennings Play Street, Bronx

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See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, Jennings St, Bronx, NY, July and August, 2014.

Uni Reading Room, Rivera Ave Play Street, Bronx

Uni Rivera Ave Bronx

See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, Rivera Ave, Bronx, NY, July and August, 2014.

Uni Reading Room, Irving Play Street, Bronx

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See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, Irving Street, Brooklyn, NY, July and August, 2014.

Uni Reading Room, Forest Ave Play Street, Bronx

Uni Forest Ave

See gallery of photos of Uni reading room, Forest Ave, Bronx, NY, July and August, 2014.

Blog posts about our work at NYC Play Streets:

Building together at Smith Houses, NYCHA

Building together at Smith Houses, NYCHA

The Uni Project brought our new program BUILD NYC to Alfred E. Smith Houses Family Day, in partnership with NYCHA’s Office of Resilience and Recovery. Thanks to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and also NYC Council Member Margaret Chin for stopping...

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Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant

Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant

We're happy to announce that the Uni Project is a recipient of a 2018 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant. Four large boxes of outstanding books just arrived to our office and will become part of pop-up reading rooms that we create across...

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How the Uni works at play streets in the Bronx

How the Uni works at play streets in the Bronx

Today, we brought the Uni to a great play street in the Bronx run by Caldwell Programs. As I promised everyone last week, I brought along some new math puzzles today. Learn more about our ongoing effort at play...

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We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 700 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.

For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to www.streetlab.org. Thanks for sticking with us!