Cyclists, skaters, scooters, runners, strollers, and water-park fans took over nearly seven miles of prime Manhattan roadway yesterday for the first of three Summer Streets Saturdays. The route was the same as in years past—from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street, on Lafayette and Park Avenues—and early morning rain may have discouraged less hearty New Yorkers, as bicycle and pedestrian traffic was pleasantly thin even during the event's prime hours of 11:00 am to 12:30 p.m.
The six Summer Streets corporate-sponsored rest stops along the route saw the return of popular activities like the giant water slide in Foley Square (this is the best Summer Street attraction), the zipline and performers in Midtown, and the free fitness classes in Soho. New this year was the LG "QuadWash" at the Central Park stop on 72nd Street, which can be described as either the world's smallest water park or wettest bouncy castle and, dopey dishwasher theme aside, clearly made a lot of little kids happy.
Even if you don't participate in any of the crowd-pleasing entertainments, Summer Streets is still a good time. Ten years in, the thrill of rolling (or ambling) down one of the city's grand boulevards without having to worry about drivers and their cars is not yet gone. Obviously the event should be vastly expanded to include many more days and hours and streets, but if this is all we get for now we might as well take advantage of the freedom, however fleeting.
The next two Summer Streets Saturdays take place on August 12 and 19 from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.