Boogie on the Boulevard Is Back

These kids know there is plenty of space on the Grand Concourse for bikes, families and fun.
Image Courtesy Will Sherman

A grand old tradition is coming back to the Bronx. After an 18-year hiatus, Boogie on the Boulevard—a car-free celebration of community, culture and healthy living—will return to the Grand Concourse this summer.

Scheduled for the first three Sundays in August (the 3rd, 10th and 17th), the event will close the Grand Concourse’s center lanes to automotive traffic between 165th Street and 167th Street so that neighbors and visitors of all ages can talk, play, dance to live music, take a free exercise class or participate in interactive art exhibits.

“Having this is a no brainer; it brings about a sense of community,” said José Rodriguez, the District Manager of the local community board. “Folks will see what will be happening and be compelled to participate, because it’s such a positive thing. I am extremely excited and I look forward to what the future holds.”

Boogie on the Boulevard was started by then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer in 1991. On every Sunday from July through November, the center lanes of the Grand Concourse were closed for more than three miles, allowing people from the community to walk, bike and enjoy one of New York City’s great thoroughfares.

Mayor Giuliani, who claimed that the closure slowed emergency vehicle response times, ended it in 1996. Political insiders, however, believe Boogie on the Boulevard was a victim of its own success: Because it was wildly popular and closely associated with one of Giuliani’s political rivals, it had to go.

Regardless of the Machiavellian maneuvering that may have undone the great event, thanks to the efforts of Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx Activist Committee, Bronx Community Board 4, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, a handful of community groups and more than 1,500 people who signed a petition in favor of the event, Boogie on the Boulevard is back.

“City streets are the backyard of millions of New Yorkers. It’s fantastic to see neighbors get together, listen to music, dance, talk and just have fun,” said T.A.’s Field Organizing Manager Jill Guidera. “Play Streets, Summer Streets, Weekend Walks, Boogie on the Boulevard: these are simultaneously incredible one-off community events and part of a much larger movement of New Yorkers rethinking and reclaiming their streets.”