Street Lab expanding programs for safe play on NYC streets

Oct 12, 2020


Street Lab expanding programs for safe play on NYC streets 

NYC nonprofit organization Street Lab will bring new opportunities for safe play for children to city streets throughout the fall, supported by Spin.

Street Lab will offer its PLAY NYC program to communities in Queens, East Harlem, and the Bronx in support of city residents who need safe, outdoor places for community gathering during the pandemic. The set-up includes a touch-free obstacle course, custom-designed benches, and a street marking kit. PLAY NYC builds on Street Lab’s work at play streets since 2013 and this new fall expansion at NYC DOT open streets is being made possible by Spin. 

“We want to help New York’s public spaces bounce back in an inspiring and safe way“ said Street Lab’s Executive Director Leslie Davol. “PLAY NYC carves out space for NYC kids on the street, so they can play together safely, and we also want to inspire New Yorkers of all ages to expand what to expect from our streets.” 

The partnership between Street Lab and Spin began during early 2020 when Spin helped fund the design, prototyping, and fabrication of a new street-deployable kit that Street Lab developed during lockdown, while awaiting the re-opening of the city’s public spaces. With the help of a team of designers and fabricators who worked while the city was closed, Street Lab was able to launch PLAY NYC in July on the very day that restrictions were lifted, transforming a street in Red Hook Brooklyn into a play space for the community. That led to a summer of deployments on streets near NYCHA public housing in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice. And now Spin is helping Street Lab run as deep as possible into the fall, taking pressure off crowded indoor spaces like schools and community centers.

“Open Streets is about more than reducing cars from our streets,” said Kay Cheng, Head Of Policy Initiatives for Spin. “It’s about reclaiming the space for everyone in the community— young and old. Our goal is to help cities and communities create spaces that are more livable and enjoyable. The work Street Lab has done to provide programs and support families during an unprecedented time is the reason we decided to partner with them on this project.”

In each location where PLAY NYC deploys, Street Lab works with local community partners who manage, support, and advocate for better public spaces in the neighborhood, including 34th Avenue Open Street Coalition, Uptown Grand Central, and Third Avenue BID. PLAY NYC is also deployed in partnership with NYC Department of Transportation with a focus on reaching underserved neighborhoods and supporting emerging public spaces. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Street Lab,” said Jim Burke of the 34 Ave Open Streets Coalition. “Their expertise combined with their desire and willingness to work with hyper local community groups on the ground is the perfect recipe for Open Streets success. The best is yet to come!”

“It is pure magic to watch Street Lab transform a city street into a place for play,” said Carey King, Director of Uptown Grand Central. “During this time of COVID-19 in East Harlem, we have sponsored two Open Streets, and Street Lab has deployed at both of them. In just minutes, a gray stretch of asphalt becomes a colorful, happy place for families and children to stretch out and explore.”

This fall, Street Lab will add new educational and creative offerings alongside the play elements, such as a mark-making kit that lets New Yorkers create collaborative drawings on the street while remaining six feet apart, outdoor homework hubs, and a new program called Inside Out that brings cultural institutions like the Queens Museum and The Drawing Center to public spaces in the hardest hit areas of the city.

Learn more about PLAY NYC here and see a full calendar of deployments here.

Founded in 2009, Street Lab is a nonprofit that creates and shares extraordinary programs for public space across New York City—pop-up reading rooms, open-air drawing studios, and more. Street Lab aims to improve the urban environment, strengthen neighborhoods, and bring New Yorkers together. The organization also send kits around the world so that other cities can do the same.

Founded in San Francisco, in 2016, Spin operates dockless mobility systems in cities and campuses throughout the United States. Spin’s Streets Program works with communities to make the streets safe, livable, and just for everyone who uses them. 


2020 PLAY NYC Locations

  • Bushwick Houses
  • Pleasant Ave between E118th and E120th, near Wagner Houses
  • Tompkins Houses
  • Van Dyke II Houses
  • W 9th St from Henry to Hicks St, near Red Hook Houses
  • E 101st St and Lexington
  • W 150th St, St Nicholas Pl to Edgecombe Ave
  • Willis Ave from E147th to E148th St
  • 34th Ave from 93rd to 94th St

2020 PLAY NYC Host Partners

  • 34th Ave Open Streets Coalition
  • Fresh Air Fund
  • Red Hook Initiative
  • Third Avenue BID
  • Uptown Grand Central

Street Lab on social media:

Twitter @streetlab

Instagram @streetlab

Facebook @streetlabnyc

LinkedIn @streetlabnyc

Spin on social media:

Twitter @ridespin

Instagram @ridespin

Facebook @ridespin

You can download these images here and share them for non-commercial and educational use. Read more about our image use policy here.

More updates about PLAY NYC:

Street Lab in Times Square with NYC DOT

Street Lab in Times Square with NYC DOT

Yesterday we landed in Times Square with our PLAY and READ programs to help announce 2022 Car-Free Earth Day (April 23) in partnership with NYC Dept. of Transportation.

We’ll be expanding our longtime partnership with NYC DOT in 2022—stay tuned!

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