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:

Uni READ, DRAW, SOLVE at Jennings Play Street in Bronx

Uni READ, DRAW, SOLVE at Jennings Play Street in Bronx

This summer, we are once again deploying to play streets in Harlem and the Bronx. Today, I worked one of our favorites, run by Caldwell Programs in Morrisania. I hung out, and took some photos, let the kids take photos, and gathered feedback for our new...

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Uni at play streets. Booyah!

Uni at play streets. Booyah!

This summer, we created regular pop-up reading rooms at six different play streets in Harlem, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Play streets are just what they sound like—streets closed to traffic so kids can play and get physical exercise. In NYC, the Uni Project is...

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The Uni’s first Artist-in-Residence

The Uni’s first Artist-in-Residence

This summer, illustrator and Parsons student Tiffany Lin was our artist-in-residence. We first met Tiffany as part of a class that created handmade books for the Uni on Governors’ Island. Tiffany made a scrolling book called LOOK UP! that told the story of a girl...

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Uni at West Harlem Play Street, 2014

Uni at West Harlem Play Street, 2014

Every Thursday in July and August 2014, we deployed the Uni reading room to a play street at Broadway and W 137th St run by Harvest Home next to their farmers' market. Learn more about our ongoing effort at play streets. Made possible by a generous grant from Shippy...

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Uni reading room at Bronx Play Street, Summer 2014 (p2)

Uni reading room at Bronx Play Street, Summer 2014 (p2)

(Page 2 of 2) In July and August 2014, we deployed the Uni reading room to a new play street run by Caldwell Programs on Jennings Street near Prospect Ave in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx. Learn more about our ongoing effort at play streets. Our...

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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!