New York Today: One Ball and a Wall

Wednesday: The history of handball, a commute update after last night’s mess, and New York’s first bikes.

Comments: 14

  1. My brothers and I played handball in Brooklyn; my father competed in four-wall handball; my grandparents played handball in Brooklyn; my grandfather played in Brooklyn and Miami Beach.

  2. Growing up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn consisted of playing handball in Sunset Park, at PS169 throughout my elementary school years, Pershing JHS through middle school and in Brighton Beach while at Grady HS. This is such a great article regarding the history of handball and the greats who hail from NYC. Whenever I think of my youth or tell stories of "my" NYC, through the 1980s, there are always elements that include handball! Thanks for taking the time to write this, such a great read!

  3. My father was practically born on a Brooklyn handball court in 1917. He had no discipline for school but he was the best handball player amongst his group of friends. He taught us how to play it in the 1950's and we marveled at his skill.

  4. I'll just bet that bicycles were popular when introduced here in the 19th century. Wide roads without automobiles. Relatively flat landscape. A sudden ability to cover distance quickly. All you had to do was roll up your right pants leg (or skirt), and watch out for pedestrians and road apples. I'd imagine it was really enjoyable, cycling in the fresh air without the congestion!

  5. I could smell a new, pink Spaldeen as I was reading the handball story. Well done. Unfortunately, girls and women didn't get to play much when I was a kid. They were pushed aside by the males.

    I wonder if that's changed.

    Does anyone remember the handball scene in the movie "Crossing Delancey"?

  6. The news about Coney Island's boardwalk becoming a scenic landmark prompted me to order copies of Harold Lloyd's Speedy and Morris Engel's Little Fugitive to share with my son, a huge Coney Island fan. Though I hope he doesn't run away to the boardwalk until he's older, it's fun to picture him in Joey's shoes.

  7. It feels too low key a day for handball, but biking could be OK - so in honor of the “And Finally” photo and story:

    Tune of “Let's Go Fly a Kite”

    With delays on the bus and the train
    You can spare your soul pain and strain.
    With your pedals and feet,
    You can zip through each street
    So each chairman and clerk -
    Let’s try biking to work
    Oh, oh, oh!

    (chorus of New Yorkers)

    Let's all bike to work
    And for an extra perk
    If you bike to work, it could be faster!
    Let’s have a smooth commute.
    Bonus: we won’t pollute!
    Oh, let's all bike to work!

  8. Attempting to play handball was, and is, one of the most frightening experiences I've ever had in my life -- Perhaps, with the exception of attempting to play squash...

  9. Loved squash when I was younger but the one time I tried handball, I almost threw my shoulder out! Tough game to get in the swing of. Never tried it again.

  10. Very funny comment, although it sounds as if your court experiences were anything but!

  11. Re Bikes on 5th Avenue: my math skills are awful, but "one hundred and 99 years ago would be 1819, not 1897.... :-)

    A baby or a car?
    The choice is urban stark.
    I have to go with the kid--
    Him I don't have to park.

  13. Handball? 1960s and '70s. Steve Sandler and Marcel Goldfarb. Brighton Beach.

  14. Interesting information about the early bikes. Our grandsons used a similar bike (the so-called "balance bike") to learn how to ride. I thought they were a relatively new idea. Little did a I know the idea was a couple hundred years old.