In response to the Greenmarket’s inefficiency at accommodating such a large population of users, is Summer Sundays in the Park. This proposal was developed through a series of meetings with the Department of Transportation to address the lack of public space in Jackson Heights.1 The main concern that was addressed by many park goers was the fact that the park and playground were routinely overcrowded and that there wasn’t enough room for all users. Also, despite the Greenmarket’s popularity, it was also not enough space to accommodate crowds and vendors. What developed as a result was 78th summer Play Street.
Beginning in 2007, the street between 34th avenue and Northern Boulevard was designated as car-free. This initiative was fully supported by the Department of Transportation and the local community board of Jackson Heights. This allowed for the park to spill into the street, allowing people to stroll, play, attend events and performances and relax in the space, while reducing crowding in the park. More recently in 2012, Green Alliance (one of the community groups responsible for the existence of Play Street) was selected as the first ever all-volunteer neighborhood group to be granted approval to operate as a permanent Public Plaza by the NYC Department of Transportation.2 This Public Plaza would allow for 78th street to be closed all year round (providing concerts, recreation, and of course, the Greenmarket), accommodating the needs of the community. In short, because Jackson Heights is a very dense urban neighborhood with a large immigrant population, low to moderate median income, and very little public open space, the Play Street provides a safe place for the diverse population of Jackson Heights to interact and to play sports, learn to ride bikes, and generally be active and social.