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At the same time as adults try to co-opt the play activities of children, children often subvert adult efforts to regulate their play. In the Marcy Projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in the sixties, hitting the "No Ball Playing” sign earned the player an extra score in the game of points; on the Lower East Side in the 1980s, children built a go-cart out of a police barricade.

Boys with go-cart
1978: Go-cart made from police barricade, Manhattan
(Photo copyright ©1978 Martha Cooper, used with permission)

Playgrounds designed for children are used in unintended ways; they climb up the sliding board and, using cardboard, slide down the jungle gym. Children and adults engage in an endless struggle to remake the world in their own image—adults organizing the play activities of children, and children incorporating these adult efforts into their improvised and spontaneous play world.

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Taken from City Play, copyright ©1990. Used with permission by

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