Boogie on the Boulevard

Streets are the biggest public space in New York City. Nevertheless, these are mostly use for vehicular traffic.

Boogie on the Boulevard re-imagines how a street in this case, Grand Concourse in The Bronx, can be transformed into a different kind of public space for pedestrians, people on wheels, and community.  This project began as an artist project by Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and grew into something bigger.

Boogie on the Boulevard has been organized by a community advisory council comprise of grassroots community organizations, city agencies, artists, community members, including  the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, BronxWorks, BxArts Factory, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, among many others.

Photos by Lauren Click, Elizabeth Hamby, Hatuey Ramos-Fermín


1909, Grand Concourse is inaugurated

The Grand Concourse was designed by the architect Louis Risse, modeled on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. It was intended to provide a quick route from the increasingly developed Manhattan to the rural calm of the Bronx.

1991, Car Free Sundays on the Grand Concourse begins

Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer introduces “Car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse.” From May-November, the center lanes of the entire four-mile stretch of the roadway were closed to cars every Sunday. Neighbors could bike, walk, skate, and spend time together using the roadway as a paved park.

1996, Car free Sundays shut down by NYC Mayor

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani insists that the organizers of Car-free Sundays apply for permits to hold the event, and then rejects their application. Political observers suggest the event was cancelled due to enmity between the Mayor and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, a potential mayoral challenger. But the Citizens To Restore Concourse Car-Free Sundays, who sent hundreds of postcards to the Mayor, hope Giuliani will see the favorite Sunday institution not simply as a Fernando Ferrer project, but as a major boost to quality of life that Bronx residents support, need and enjoy.

2006, Car Free Sunday on the Grand Concourse by Transportation Alternatives

Transportation Alternatives and a group of neighborhood residents worked together to bring back Car-Free Sundays on a trial basis.

Street films Car free Sundays on the Grand Concourse article

2012, Boogie Down Rides

Boogie Down Rides was established by artists Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín  a bicycling and art project.

Boogie Down Rides is a celebration of bicycling in the Bronx. It includes educational events, community visioning sessions and group rides.

Boogie Down Rides firmly believes in the power of bicycling as a way to promote active transportation, recreation, and exercise. We support and build bridges of existing efforts to expand safe cycling while connecting communities and people in the process.

This project is organized by meta local collaborative, an initiative by artists Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín, and includes a broad coalition of individuals and organizations. 

This project started as part of the exhibition This Side of Paradise, presented by No Longer Empty

2012, Campaign to reinstate Car Free Sundays on the Grand Concourse begins

As part of Boogie Down Rides project the artists organized a community advisory group including community members, local activists, city agencies, non profit organizations. Discussions lead to the idea to reinstate Car Free Sundays on the Grand Concourse and a campaign started supported by Transportation Alternatives.

Boogie on the Boulevard Coalition LetterDownload

2014, First Boogie on the Boulevard

2014- Boogie on the Boulevard brought back Car-Free Sundays to the Concourse for three Sundays in August. More than 2,500 people came out to celebrate the street as public space.

Boogie on the Boulevard continues…

Boogie on the Boulevard

After two years of hard work from a diverse range of Bronx community members, I’m happy to report that Boogie on the Boulevard (formerly known as Car Free Sundays) is coming back to the Grand Concourse! Please join us and help spread the word about these great events!

‘Boogie on the Boulevard’ to Turn Grand Concourse Into Thoroughfare for Recreation

By: Erin Clarke for NY1

Link to original article and video

A popular event from the past is being revived that will close the Grand Concourse for three days this summer and turn it into a wide thoroughfare open for recreation. NY1’s Erin Clarke filed the following report.

No vehicles, not even one, will pass along a stretch of the Grand Concourse for three days this summer.

Instead, live performances, music, workshops and more will fill the space as part of Boogie on the Boulevard.

“This idea of being open, inviting community to bring children, bring their families, bring their friends and have fun here,” said Hatuey Ramos-Fermin, curator at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

The event revives the tradition of car-free Sundays, when nearly the entire length of the Concourse closed every Sunday of the summer. It stopped in the ’90s.

“I remember when I was younger, when the concourse on Sundays was closed and all I would see was bike riders and people walking around, and there was this big sense of community,” said Ed Garcia Conde, a blogger with Welcome2TheBronx.

Several community partners are bringing the idea back as a way to showcase the borough, its people and culture, and to encourage healthy lifestyles.

“It’s good to have it for the community, but they should have been done this a long time ago to all the people that get to see different cultures of everything that is going around this city,” said one member of the community.

Another goal of Boogie on the Boulevard is to start a conversation among community members about the Grand Concourse.

“Folks can reimagine the Grand Concourse, where they can look at how they would improve the Concourse or changes they would make so that they can have it, have better access to it all year-round,” said Jill Guidera, filed organizing manager with Transportation Alternatives.

Organizers hope to open a dialogue about the roadway, especially since Transportation Alternatives found that similarly constructed roadways accounted for 60 percent of fatal crashes or serious injuries citywide.

“It’s still sometimes referred as the Boulevard of Death because the cars are really zooming and racing by,” Conde said. “I really would love to see it be more pedestrian-friendly, also friendly for bikers and rollerbladers like myself to be able to experience that. Do we really need all these lanes for cars?”

They’re questions that will hopefully get the wheels moving in the direction of change.

Boogie on the Boulevard will be held on August 3, August 10 and August 17.