Stickball, roller skates and jingle jump: The street games of 20th century NYC

Posted On Fri, August 3, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, August 3, 2018 By In Features, photography, The urban lens

© New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Before iPads and air-conditioning, New Yorkers of all ages sought entertainment outside. And since backyards and open space in the city are practically non-existent, games took place outside of apartment buildings, spilling out onto the streets and sidewalks. Twentieth-century New Yorkers improvised games in streets and parks, including classics like kick the can, off the wall and stickball. Preserved and documented from an NYC Parks archivist, photos from this era will make you wistful for the simplicity of urban street games.


Rollerskating race on Riverside Drive (1943)


A game of street basketball (1968)


Men playing stickball on Thompson Street (1977)


Arnold Constable’s 20th-anniversary egg rolling contest on the Great Lawn at Central Park (1966)


Bicycles on the mall in Central Park (1964)


Jingle Jump contest on Central Park Mall (1965)


Hula Hoop competition in Central Park (1967)


Men playing stickball on Thompson Street (1977)


Boys playing stickball on 1st Avenue, between 62nd and 63rd Streets (1953)


Improvised street game (circa the 1970s)

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All photos © New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

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