City/Game at the Museum of the City of New York, chronicles the bond between basketball and the Big Apple



You may have heard how basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith, who nailed peach baskets to the balconies at a Springfield, Massachusetts, YMCA, and players used soccer balls to score. The game has changed a lot since then (for one, basketballs are now used…) and began being played across the country, but basketball has become synonymous 140 miles south of Springfield, with New York City.


Proving grounds like Holcombe Rucker Park in Harlem and the courts at West 4th Street in Greenwich Village, along with high schools like Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx and Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, have produced some of the NBA’s greatest and most polarizing players, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chris Mullin and Stephon Marbury. They all brought a sense of grit and swagger from the asphalt to the hardwood, epitomizing the city’s mettle, contributing to its rich and legendary basketball history. 



city game exhibit
They wear short shorts…New York Knicks against the Fort Wayne Pistons at the third Madison Square Garden, 1953 Arthur Rothstein and Frank Bauman; Museum of the City of New York, the LOOK Collection, gift of Cowles Magazines, Inc.



And once, believe it or not kids, the New York Knicks were the best in the land…


Now fans of the City’s game can relish its history and influence. City/Game: Basketball in New York at the Museum of the City of New York reflects the cultural, social, economic, ethnic and racial history of the city while capturing the enthusiasm and progression of this game and the energy of the legion of New Yorkers who play and love it. The exhibit features original objects and memorabilia, alongside captivating photographs, remarkable audio and scintillating video, highlighting the connections between basketball, music and fashion.  


city game exhibit
Apparently this was what the kids wore to play basketball in 1940. Nike couldn’t come soon enough Andrew Herman; Museum of the City of New York, gift of Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, Federal Art Project



City/Game: Basketball in New York is on display from February 14, 2020 to January 2021, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. mcny.org