Found this scene the other day, walking down to a friend’s place in Bedford-Stuyvesant . . . 

Girl Jumping in and out of skipping Rope in Bed-stuy
Girl Jumping in and out of skipping Rope in Bed-stuy


This was for a special occasion – a block party in the local community garden (for you non-New Yorkers – a block party is the practice of closing off a street for a day, and local people hauling out BBQs, sound systems, sitting on their stoops and hanging around in the street,  having a good time. In extreme cases they bring in entertainment, but more usually it’s just one street. You see it in some white neighborhoods, but mostly it’s a black thing. Why don’t we do this in Canada?)

   I don’t recall seeing little girls skipping ropes in white neighborhoods for many years, either in New York or Canada or Britain, but it’s a common enough sight in black neighborhoods, where little girls hold the rope and chant while someone jumps in and out. I remember it happening as a kid, but I don’t see it now. One of the many traditions us white folk are losing or have lost, and a sense of community and togetherness that, for all their problems, remains in black communities. 

And hey, it wasn’t just for the kids: 

Woman Skipping Rope
Woman Skipping Rope

 how about you readers, do you see kids skipping rope in your neighborhoods? Do you remember seeing kids playing skipping rope games when you were a kid? Did you skip rope yourself?


  1. I don’t see kids skipping rope in London, but if you go a long way out and to small places, you still sometimes see girls skipping rope in the UK. You still see skipping ropes in the shops too, and some are marketed for kids, while others are sold as exercise equipment….

  2. It’s funny, I hadn’t thought about kids skipping in years – not until I was walking down a street here in Brooklyn and these young black girls were skipping in and out, waiting in line, and chanting as they skipped. I remember how girls (and very occasionally boys) would do that in small town Canada where I grew up. Still, if they’re selling them in the shops, someone must be using them . . .

  3. Great post! I’m a member of the Community Engagement Department at WNYC Radio and we are hosting an event this Thursday about the economy in Central Brooklyn ( I’m putting together a special website to cover the event, and would love to have the above photo (the 1st one) featured as a part of our homepage collage. Please email me back at to discuss copyright permissions/crediting, etc. Thanks so much! I hope to hear from you soon!

    WNYC Radio

    • Thanks Melanie, happy to contribute. Just give me credit – I sent you an email just now. Best Wishes, Tim

    • Norway – Bed-Stuy – what could be the connection? Perhaps both more traditional places?

  4. This is a beautiful post. Tim, your blog is terrific, just the thing we need more of.
    The interesting thing about your picture of the girls jumping rope is that it is an example of city people using public space, an action that is distinctly urban. Usually, in suburbia, people love their homes and private places, but they hate public areas which tend to be hostile: lots of traffic, broad boring streets designed for cars and not people, few lights which make it difficult for kids to play at night, and little physical space that is not meant for cars. In the city, people love and use the public spaces like the sidewalk as much as they love and use their private homes. However, as the city becomes increasingly suburbanized and homogenized (ie, bank chains where bakeries used to be) scenes like your girls playing jump rope on the street are becoming rarer. There’s a great architect named Andres Duany who studies exactly this.

    • Vanessa,

      Thanks for your post and your kind words – I’m an admirer of your blog as well, in fact you helped me decide to keep on going with this blog and find some direction for it after I almost quit in the spring . . .

      I’ll have to read Andres Duany, as well as a book you mention on your site about the suburbanization of NY. What’s interesting, is that suburbanization is happening in almost all Western cities – central London, for example, is even more a city of a rich than Manhattan. And even more homogenized. What I always admired about New York, was that public life was exactly that – public, out in the open, accessible. Sadly, that seems to be disappearing and when I go to Manhattan now I almost find it a little boring.
      Almost, because even gentrification cannot entirely change New York’s dynamic. I’ll be very curious to see where New York is in say five years, because the city seems to change, often dramatically, in five year cycles. With unemployment at 10.3 percent – higher than the average for New York state – who are all these people coming in and how long will they stay?
      I grew up in small towns before I moved to the city and never really understand the suburban mentality. It seems to me you’d WANT life to be out in the open, to have places easy that were easy to get to, places to congregate and so on. If current trends continue, I wonder what the suburbs will look like in ten years or so?



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