On the first three Saturdays in August, Summer Streets turns nearly seven miles of Manhattan’s normally congested byways into traffic-free public spaces. The carless route, which stretches from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Upper East Side along Lafayette Street and Park Avenue, is a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. (If you don’t own a set of wheels, Bike and Roll is offering free rentals, and the DOT will distribute hundreds of gratis helmets to encourage safe riding. Plus, Citi Bike will have ambassadors stationed along the thoroughfare to answer questions about the bike-sharing program.) And like a supercharged street fair, the free, all-ages event offers plenty of movement-focused activities, exhibitions and demonstrations centered on six “Rest Stops”. Here’s what to look out for as you wander down the road.
1. Foley Square Rest Stop
Check out the cityscape Spider-Man-style on a 165-foot-long zip line at the Foley Square Rest Stop (Duane St at Centre St), where thrill-seeking sightseers can soar 25 feet above the crowd. Then freshen up at Brooklyn artist and architectural designer Chat Travieso’s CoolStop, a fire-hydrant-powered, ten-foot-tall PVC-pipe sculpture that battles summer’s rising temperatures with a light mist. On August 17, you can investigate a Museum of Food and Drink exhibit about the history of breakfast cereals, and taste grains popped in a 3,200-pound puffing gun that once produced Kix and Cheerios.
2. Soho Rest Stop
The outdoor enthusiasts at REI have created an Adventure Zone at the Soho Rest Stop (Lafayette St at Spring St), where you can ascend a 25-foot-high rock-climbing wall and then view footage of yourself online a few days later. While you’re there, get a free bike tune-up and snag giveaways from sport and outdoor brands such as Marmot, Columbia and Shimano.
3. Park Avenue Tunnel
Pedestrians will have the rare opportunity to walk through the Park Avenue Tunnel (Park Ave at 33rd St), which serves as a canvas for Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive Voice Tunnel. An intercom is located at the center: As visitors pass through, their voices—which are piped through 150 speakers—control the intensity of light in the passageway. The louder the sound, the more brightly the 300 spotlights will shine along the walls and ceiling, creating ever-changing visuals as you make your way through the 1,400-foot corridor.
4. Uptown Rest Stop
Play nine holes of putt-putt at the Uptown Rest Stop (Park Ave at 52nd St), where interactive-installation artist Risa Puno has created The Course of Emotions: A mini-golf experience. Each hole features an emotional obstacle to be overcome, such as the Worry Windmill, the Frustration Maze and the Seesaw Platform of Insecurity. Sign up for a tee time and make use of nearby lounge chairs and a water sprinkler while you wait your turn.