Take A Tour Of The Beautiful, Gritty Places Where New Yorkers Play

From baseball diamonds to soccer fields, recreational spaces nestled between buildings show how open spaces and urban development can interact.


New York may be the most densely populated city in the U.S., but it also happens to have more parks than other cities–including 800 athletic fields and 1,000 playgrounds along with bigger traditional parks. In a recent photo series, French photographer Franck Bohbot, now based in Brooklyn, explores the public streetball courts and baseball fields tucked into the city.


“I’m interested in the relationship between the built environment and people in general,” Bohbot says. “I found it interesting to photograph courts and fields because they have a big personality. In my opinion–this is the place where everybody who comes from everywhere plays together.”

Court Guttenberg, New York, NY, 2014

He visited places like a baseball field in front of Lower East Side housing projects, a handball court near NYU, and a soccer field along the West Side Highway. Most of the photographs show the space alone, with no people. “I was searching for the best light from morning to night, and also the best moment–empty,” Bohbot says.

“I’m not looking for standard views,” he adds. “It’s interesting to find authentic parts of a city–desolate or crowded. I love when it’s calm, and when you don’t feel oppressed by a picture.”

Baseball field, East River Park & Domino Sugar, New York, NY, 2014

In a similar series, Bohbot took 100 photos of empty basketball courts throughout New York. “They’re like a secret garden for me,” he says. “You don’t see them like you would a landmark building. … I find charisma in ordinary things.”

He hopes to soon take his show on the road. “Step by step, I will try to visit and travel to other cities in America and abroad to photograph more places,” he says.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."