City officials announced on Friday a new initiative called Play Streets, which will provide families and kids with safe, structured activities during weekdays on certain streets.
Play Streets began this week, and will operate Monday through Friday until September 4. Although hours vary by location, most will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cars are not permitted to enter those streets during Play Street hours. Local groups that serve as “organizing partners” will be responsible for setting up the barricades, posting signage and restoring the Open Street condition at the end of the programming.
“Young people deserve the chance to play freely in their neighborhoods while staying safe from COVID-19, and Play Streets will go a long way toward easing the burden of a summer unlike any other,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “Rebuilding a fairer and better city means using our urban landscape creatively.”
At Play Streets, kids can participate in arts-and-crafts projects like making kaleidoscopes, birdhouses, rhythm drums and cloud climbers. Board games such as Connect 4 and Jenga will be made available.
They can participate in sports drills for basketball, frisbee, softball, kickball and lasertag. Other activities include reading corners, dance classes, cardio and yoga exercises.
Street Lab, a local nonprofit that creates outdoor furniture and programming for public spaces, will provide 160 custom benches and a no-touch obstacle course as well.
All programming must adhere to social distancing guidelines, city officials said.
In Queens, Play Streets include 34th Avenue from 72nd to 74th streets, 79th to 80th streets, and 92nd to 94th streets, all in Jackson Heights.
Brooklyn’s Play Streets include 6th Avenue from 44th to 45th streets in Sunset Park, Park Place from New York Avenue to Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, and Humboldt Street from Moore Street to Varet Street in Bushwick.
The city is also opening up another mile of Open Streets across four boroughs. In Astoria, the 31st Avenue Open Street Collective will manage a quarter-mile stretch on 31st Avenue from 31st to 36th streets.
In Sunnyside, the 39th Avenue Open Street Coalition will be in charge of 47th Street from 39th Avenue to Skillman Avenue, as well as 49th Street from 39th Avenue to Skillman Avenue.
Finally, the developer Rockrose will manage one block on Dutch Kills Street from Jackson to Thompson avenues in Long Island City.
Open Streets are also expanding in Red Hook, where Good Shepherd Services will oversee Wolcott Street from Conover to Van Brunt streets, a 0.09-mile stretch.
In Bedford-Stuyvesant, 700 Jefferson Avenue Block Association will be in charge of Jefferson Avenue from Patchen Avenue to Malcolm X Boulevard.
“As Open Streets continues to grow, providing New Yorkers with space to walk, bike, cool off and enjoy outdoor dining, we are proud to roll out Play Streets for children and families in some of the city’s most COVID-impacted neighborhoods,” said Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
While expanding the initiative, the city is also removing several underused Open Streets locations, including portions of Prospect Park West and Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn and Center Boulevard, 27th Street and 85th Street in Queens.
Altogether, 2.77 miles of Open Streets will return to normal vehicle traffic.
“This is a unique moment to stand up for NYC kids, giving them a chance to play and learn, while also expanding our city’s sense of what’s possible for streets and public space,” said Leslie Davol, executive director of Street Lab. “We’re all in.”