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Play Street: 1936

Play Street: 1936

June 1936. "Background photo for Hightstown project. Play street for children. Sixth Street and Avenue C, New York City. The Solomon family who are to be resettled at Hightstown, New Jersey, live in this neighborhood. This Resettlement Administration project includes 250 homes, 414 acres of farmland, a modern factory, utilities including water system, recreation area and lake. Each family will have a modern home and an opportunity to work in a cooperative factory. Also a small plot of land for raising garden vegetables." Medium format negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Who is on Safety Patrol?

Growing up my Catholic grade school would block off the street in front of the school during lunch recess with barricades. Woe to the student on Safety Patrol who forgot to remove the barricades after lunch recess.

Re: To Let

I don't know, but it was still in use in Roger Miller's song "King of the Road"
"Trailer for sale or rent,
Rooms to let for fifty cents,"

Housekeeping rooms

I started learning to read in 1959. "TO LET" was still being used in Camden, New Jersey at that time. I understood the sign advertised the availability of an apartment but I read the sign as "toilet". I thought the landlord was advertising that a tenant would have the benefit of a private water closet.

I only recently learnt that my mother thought the same thing when she was starting to read. It's possible that the signs were decades old and the landlords just kept using them, so the phrase may have gone out of use earlier in younger communities.

Play streets still exist!


"Established in 1914, the summer Play Street program has been closing off streets and other public areas throughout New York City to give children safe, supervised and fun-filled places to play and learn."

Future Home of Alphabet City

Thirty-five years later, this part of Lower Manhattan might have seen dead junkies or mugged pedestrians sprawled out where the produce crates are in this shot. Still, in the '70s the neighborhood had also become a haven for unestablished painters and more than a few poets (Alan Ginsberg prominent among them). Now, I suppose, it's become gentrified and lofts are selling for $5,000/sq.ft.

My desultory efforts to learn more about the Hightstown project reveal that the area it occupied is now called Roosevelt, and that the cooperative did not survive to the end of WWII. One wonders whether the Alphabet City refugees returned to the City or became assimilated Joiseyites.

To Let

Curious as to when "to let" went out of favor and replaced by "for rent".

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