August is perhaps New York City’s most quiet month (thanks to many people escaping the heat and humidity with last hurrah vacations), and the streets actually seem less-crowded here when it rolls around. The city takes advantage of this relative seasonal hush with Summer Streets, an entirely free program that opens a seven-mile stretch of streets to pedestrians and bikes, with lots of chances to play, eat, dance and learn about healthy recreation and sustainable transportation along the way. And yes, this year there will be a mega water slide, too.

Slide the City general shot

photo: Slide the City

Taking it to the Streets

A program of the Department of Transportation, Summer Streets makes the seven-mile stretch of Park Avenue at 72nd Street to Lafayette Street at Brooklyn Bridge vehicle-free for three consecutive Saturdays in August (the 1st, the 8th and the 15th) from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cyclists, runners, walkers, rollerbladers, etc. are encouraged to come out and enjoy as little or as much of the route as they like.

But it’s much more than just open streets with no cars to dodge. Five rest stops are along the way, each offering different free activities and entertainment. The list of things to do and see is extensive, including everything from parkour demonstrations and dance performances to free bike repair and a 165-foot long, 30-feet high zipline, but each one is anchored by a big attraction or entertainment option.


photo: Marcia P. via Yelp

The Rest Stop Rundown

The Uptown Rest Stop (at 52nd Street and Park Avenue) will host dance, music, and comedy performances on a stage, while also offering free face-painting, art projects, bike rentals and the chance to climb in a big rig for a “Truck’s Eye View” of the road.

The Midtown Rest Stop (at 25th Street and Park Avenue) is home to the Whole Foods Market City Picnic, where you’ll be able to pick up lots of free samples and see demonstrations of juggling and tai chi and dance performances. Plus, this stop features free bike and rollerblade rentals as well as free helmets and helmet fittings by the Department of Transportation. Also: free bike repair!

The main attraction at Astor Place Rest Stop (at Astor Place and Lafayette Street) will be the American Kennel Club Dog Park, equipped with a grassy knoll, pools to splash in, a space to play and an agility course. Owners can also get a photo with their pooch at the Wooftale Photo Booth. Other attractions include arts and crafts, the chance to try a hand-cycle and walking tours.


photo: Larry L. via Yelp

The SoHo Rest Stop (at Spring Street and Lafayette Street) is all about the hardbodies, thanks to classes from Crunch Gym. Classes include yoga, pilates, Retro-robics, Street Jazz and Boot Camp. You’ll also find free bike rental and Honest Tea samples here.

The Foley Square Rest Stop (at Duane Street and Centre Street) is where the intense action is happening. The big attraction is the Vita Coco Beach featuring Slide the City, the giant water slide (more on that later). You’ll also find the zipline, misting stations, lots of free Coco Vita Coconut water and a “virtual technology” beach experience.

Soccer will also be big at Foley Square, thanks to the NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital Soccer Zone, where freestyle soccer players will do demonstrations and play, with regular folks joining in. And be on the lookout for Ben Franklin wandering around: an historical reenactor will be at Foley Square, ready to engage in a bit of living history.

Slide the City girls

photo: Slide the City

So, About that Waterslide

This humongous slide has been popping up all over the country this summer, thanks to a company known as Slide the City.  It will be located at Foley Square, at the intersection of Centre Street & Lafayette Street, and while it is free to ride (one time per person) online pre-registration is required to ride the slide. You must be five years old and 46 inches or taller to ride; all kids under 18 must get sign-off from parents. (Be sure to read all the specifics and rules on riding the slide on the Summer Streets web site.)

Registration for the slide on the first Summer Street Saturday on August 1 opened on July 23; registration for August 8 opens on August 3 and registration for August 15 opens on August 10. To register and for further information visit the Slide the City website.

Will you be headed to Summer Streets this year? Have you done Slide the City? Tell us in the comments below!

—Mimi O’Connor