New Public Spaces

Street Lab is working with the NYC Department of Transportation and communities across New York City to create new public spaces in historically underserved areas of the city. To do this, we’re helping grassroots groups, schools, and other community-based organizations pilot and establish new Open Streets in their neighborhood, which provides immediate benefits to the community while also laying the groundwork for permanent changes.

This initiative started in 2022 with ten locations and added 12 more in 2023, one of which has now become a permanent plaza. Street Lab is providing programming and activation to these sites, as well as support with permits, logistics, staffing, partnerships, community engagement, and evaluation. In 2024, we’re working with over 20 groups to launch Open Streets and making a special effort with schools. Our goal is to double the number of locations we can support every year. Contact us to get involved.

A teacher explaining how to assemble a table to elementary school students on a street in NYC.

“The open streets have created a space for us to thrive as a community here at PS32, while we celebrate health, wellness, and one another! ….You can see, hear and feel the joy that has been created! And the best part is—we created it and can keep on creating it!”

Anna Goldman

Movement and Mindfulness Teacher, PS 32 (Belmont, Bronx)

Our Process

a moving image showing the progress from "partnership launched" to "site visits & meetings" to "planning & permits" to "outreach & engagement" to "activation" to "evaluation & next steps"

When a partnership is launched, we build our connection with host partners and the community through neighborhood visits and in-person meetings. We work with residents to explore how the new public space can bring immediate benefits and also support long-term goals of the neighborhood. We then provide planning and technical support, including scheduling and permitting of new Open Streets. When it comes time to activate the street, we provide support with site management, pop-up programming, promotion, and documentation. Following the season, we work with the community to determine next steps, with an eye towards empowering local groups to further develop and steward these new spaces into the future. 

A special effort to create Open Streets next to schools

A boy jumping a hurdle on a street in NYC.

In 2024, we’re making a special effort to create more car-free streets next to schools as part of our New Public Space Initiative. These kinds of new public spaces are urgently needed for safer drop-off and pick-up, but they can also offer dynamic new space for recess, after-school activities, and learning outside school walls. We see a unique opportunity with these spaces to bring out the best in New Yorkers and make learning a source of pride for the whole neighborhood. 

A map of NYC with dots located mainly in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The label reads "Current" with street names and "Potential" with street names.

New Public Spaces in Progress

Bristol St
Brownsville, Brooklyn

Brownsville Neighborhood Health Action Center, NYC Dept. of Mental Health and Hygiene

Street Lab is working to launch an Open Street that will be connected as part of a safe Bike Bus Route, with pilots starting in spring 2024.

Thatford Ave
Brownsville, Brooklyn

Brownsville Community Justice Center

Street Lab is partnering with Brownsville Community Justice Center to activate a new Open Street at the end of Thatford Ave at Belmont Ave near many local businesses. Thatford Ave is already used as a gathering spot, and the Open Street expands the ways in which people can use the street and creates more space for community.

A progress bar with six stages; this one has first five colored in blue and has a text "public space pilots" under the fifth dot.

E 148th St
Mott Haven, Bronx

Equity Design and Bronx Health REACH

Since first working together to create an Open Street in 2021, Street Lab is returning to PS 18X with our pop-up programs for another season. As ideas for use of the street have progressed, Street Lab is now supporting the school’s vision to use the street to increase bike usage and access in the neighborhood..

Goble Pl
Mount Eden, Bronx

Comprehensive Model School Project MS 327

A school building that says

Located just below the Cross Bronx Expressway, CMSP 327 is in the early stages of planning an Open Street to create much-needed open space near the school. Street Lab will help them this winter with planning, capacity-building, and community engagement, with the Open Street debuting spring 2024.

Grand Ave
Morris Heights, Bronx

Bright Leaders Group Family Daycare

Four children playing with legos on a table.

Street Lab is partnering with Bright Leaders Group Family Daycare to create a new Open Street near the daycare for the summer. The daycare is located in a residential area with no outdoor space available for daycare children and youths in the neighborhood.

A progress bar with six stages; this one has first two colored in blue and has a text "site visits & meetings" under the second dot.

Mt Hope Pl
Mount Hope, Bronx

PS 28 Mount Hope Centennial School

Group of students wearing matching tshirts holding a banner and raising their hands up.

Street Lab is creating a new Open Street with PS 28 while the school playground is closed for construction, forcing indoor recess. The idea for an Open Street grew out of the school’s tradition of hosting block parties for Mother’s and Father’s Day. An Open Street will build on that experience to create a consistent public space for the school and community.

Made possible by

With additional support from

Recent news about New Public Spaces

Kids Take the Streets

Kids Take the Streets

Opening up a street for play is a powerful way to get kids engaged in improving their neighborhood. Street Lab is piloting new Open Streets with five public schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn, and extraordinary results are already coming in—students are now leading the...

Pop-up helps make a new public space in Brooklyn

Pop-up helps make a new public space in Brooklyn

Since 2022, Street Lab has been activating the Beverley Road Open Street in Kensington, Brooklyn, to help the community explore the potential of pedestrian public space in a traffic-congested commercial area. Today, the road became a permanent pedestrian plaza, with a...

Videos

Street Lab’s Leslie Davol introduces Street Lab and NYC DOT partnership

Aug 8, 2023