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 early 2024, we’re working with over 20 groups, including 12 new groups to launch Open Streets and making a special effort with schools. Our goal is to double the number of locations we can support each 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 in our partnership, with an eye towards empowering local groups to further develop and steward these new spaces into the future. 

Locations in Progress 2023-2024

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 on the dead-end block of Thatford Ave just off of Belmont Ave where there are 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 streetscape 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’s playground is under construction.The school has no other space for recess or physical activity. The idea for an Open Street grew out of the school’s tradition of hosting block parties on the street for Mother’s and Father’s Day events. An Open Street will build on that experience to create a consistent public space for the school and surrounding community.

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. 

All Locations supported under this initiative since 2021

Map of NYC with green dots and black dots. The key indicates green dots are "In Progress" and black dots are "Previous."

(Learn more about the other 390+ locations where Street Lab has worked across NYC since 2011…)

Recent news about New Public Spaces

Students at PS32 produce a video about Open Streets

Students at PS32 produce a video about Open Streets

Catch a short video about the Open Street on Beaumont Ave that Street Lab is creating with PS 32 in the Bronx, which was filmed and produced by the students at PS 32 in collaboration with The Media Spot, a nonprofit media literacy and training organization.

Street Lab Teens taking the lead on the street

Street Lab Teens taking the lead on the street

Sixteen talented public high school students just wrapped up their work with us, closing a remarkable season of Street Lab Teens where they helped lead Street Lab activations across the city. They collaborated beautifully with each other and our community partners,...


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

Aug 8, 2023

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