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What the heck are we doing?
Twentieth anniversary note: Take a look at our "What's New" page to see what we have in store to celebrate 2 decades of street playing goodness!
March 2019 marked the twentieth anniversary of Streetplay.com (finally past those awkward teen years!). We're thrilled to have helped thousands review and better remember some of their fondest childhood memories. We’re proud to have become the website people trust to document and celebrate the history and experience of urban play.
Back in the fall of 1997, Streetplay founder Mick Greene and his buddy Mark Pesner (Mick & Pez) were reminiscing about the fun they had as kids playing in the streets of the boroughs of NY. As many urban boomers, they lamented the general state of play today becoming increasingly more organized and less organic. Instead of just saying "we should write a book" (and they did say that), Mick felt the project would be propelled by an Internet presence where they might get feedback and old-time photos. He decided to create this website, originally calling it "The Games We Used to Play." Streetplay.com went live on 3/21/1999, just about the same time that Spalding re-introduced the spaldeen.
Streetplay.com went live on 3/21/1999, just about the same time that Spalding re-introduced the spaldeen. Our "what's new" page read:
What's New? The Whole Freakin' Site!
We were excited at the prospect using the Internet to connect with people throughout the world on this subject… but thousands of websites were popping up at the time dedicated to a myriad of inane topics. Yahoo!, the main search engine of the time, saw the value of Streetplay, and chose us as one of their "picks of the week" on 4/5/1999. (see the Yahoo! article, and what Yahoo! used to look like in 1999, courtesy of archive.org).
The Yahoo! pick got the attention of a very large audience, and one particular skully-playing web developer/Bronx native, Hugh McNally, who eventually became our producer. Mick was able to charm other friends and colleagues, like our original graphic designer Alf Brand, to add their talents to this project. Together, we turned what could have been a soon-to-be-abandoned hobbyist site into a high-quality, multi-thousand page site you.
While we've always joked about not getting rich by doing this site, we have gotten more than 15 minutes of fame and recognition. We've worked with major cultural institutions like the Smithsonian and the Museum of Natural History, as well as the New York City Parks Department, City Lore, and various schools. The New York Times wrote a feature article about us in October 1999, and we continue to get media attention from sources as the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, and many other smaller outlets. Our status as a web authority may well have been cemented by William Safire, who cited us as a lexicographic reference in his "On Language" column (take a look).
We've been privileged to work with some great individuals--many professional photographers and artists have allowed us to feature their urban-oriented work here. We've also met a lot of great people in the still vibrant NYC street game community, particularly the New York Emperor's Stickball League and the U.S. Handball Association.
We still love to hear from our readers! We want the site to recall when it was OK to go outside, hang out with friends and have a great time playing activities that didn't require a coach, schedule, or major amount of brand name equipment. We're also interested in encouraging parents to share some of these games and enjoyment with their kids. Be part of our ongoing community, by visiting our Facebook page.
We want Streetplay.com to bring you pure enjoyment. That's what it's been
doing for us for
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