Play, Games, and Sport

Petanque in New York

First practiced in New York City in the 1930s (Pilate 2005, 109–10), the bowling game petanque has become visible in the public spaces of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, next to frisbee, badminton, volleyball, and tai chi. Today, this urban game is played by players of French origin (binational and expatriate), French-speaking immigrants of African origin, and increasingly numerous English-speaking players. This article uses ethnographic data I collected in 2009 and 2011 to describe petanque play in New York City, including different playing areas, the history of local petanque clubs, the hot moments of the annual calendar, ordinary practice, and the personal journeys and motivations of the players.

From Central Park Rumba with Love

Central Park Rumba is an internationally known music event. I first heard about it in Mexico City in 1980, described in great detail by Cesar Sandoval, a drummer who had lived in New York and frequented the rumba circle in the 1970s …When traveling to Havana to visit my family in the 1990s, rumberos (rumba drummers) and other musicians asked me if I knew their rumba friends from Union City, the Bronx, and Central Park. I arrived at my first CP Rumba the second week of
September 1994, my first week living in the city. There in Central Park, I was told that rumba was addictive. I got hooked! I became a regular to the scene.

From the Waterfront

Since the nineteenth century, a tradition of sport fishing has existed alongside the centuries-old traditions of harvesting fish for subsistence and commercial purposes. Local commercial harvesters worked as fishing guides, earning extra income by taking paying guests—typically from New York City—to historically productive fishing areas on Long Island and in the Catskills, the Finger Lakes region, and the Adirondacks.


The original American Hall of Fame was not
the baseball institution in Cooperstown, which
opened in 1939, but the Hall of Fame for Great
Americans, dedicated in 1901 on what was then
a Bronx campus of New York University. In its
early years this brainchild of NYU’s Chancellor
Henry Mitchell MacCracken was a sensation, engaging
the public and the press in spirited debate
about who merited inclusion.


On July 20, 1858, nearly 10,000 fans gathered at the Fashion Race Course in Queens to watch what may have been the most important game in all of baseball history…. baseball was governed by the rules and practices of an amateur association formed only the year before. Although this body called itself the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), in truth, the new game was an exceedingly local affair, little played outside what is today the New York metropolitan area.