March 2010 marked the twelfth anniversary of Streetplay.com (a dozen, just like eggs, yo), and in that time we’re proud to have become the website people trust to document and celebrate the history and experience of urban play. Lots of sites have started and folded in the these years, so first and foremost we want to thank our readers for keeping us around. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, we’d like to thank you for making this website necessary.
Back in the fall of 1997, Streetplay founder Mick Greene and his buddy Mark Pesner 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. Mick didn’t let the topic sit, though–instead of just saying “we should write a book” (and he did say that), 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. Our “what’s new” page read:
What’s New? The Whole Freakin’ Site!
Clearly, we were excited at the prospect of telling people about street play using the Internet… but thousands of websites were popping up at the time dedicated to a myriad of inane topics. Luckily, Yahoo! saw the value of Streetplay, and chose us as one of their “picks of the week” on 4/5/1999 (take a look).
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–modesty notwithstanding–the high-quality, multi-thousand page site you see before you. This is the product of lots of time, effort, and late-night staff meetings in the Greene basement.
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 were nominated for the best sports site of 2004 by the Webby Awards, and our collaboration with Junkmaster extraordinaire Bernie DeKoven began when he selected us for his Major Fun award. In 2009, we finally secured the domain name “streetplay.org” and, in true Streetplay fashion, we have no idea what we want to do with it, other than keeping it from being an Asian porn site (that’s the fate we saved it from).
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. If you have anything you want to say, please contact us!
We want Streetplay.com to bring you pure enjoyment. That’s what it’s been
doing for us for 12 years going.