Samuel Bennerson Park’s Basketball-Centric Design

Basketball courts in NYC’s public parks give New Yorkers a communal area to get outdoors and connect with one another


Located a few blocks from Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, and nestled within the Amsterdam Houses public housing project, sit two basketball courts at awkward angles and at different elevations. 

Today is Sunday, and both are empty.

The crashing silence of the morning is not lost on the Samuel N. Bennerson 2nd Playground. The air over the concrete bristles at our footsteps; each crack and dent tell a story of crossovers and fadeaways. A few pigeons make their way across the lower court. The blue concrete is the heart of the park. 

Any other day of the week, the court bustles with the intense competition of five-on-five pickup basketball. Today, there are no rim-shattering dunks, no crowd-silencing threes. The community will be back tomorrow, reimposing the ecstatic energy of New York basketball. 

The upper court watches its neighbor closely. Although shaded by trees and a 10-foot fence, this second hardtop fits its niche comfortably. While the larger, lower court hosts rough-and-tumble pickup, impatient squads shoot around on the upper court, waiting for their turn on the big stage. 

Public parks are vessels for basketball culture. In this city, they bring people together, and Samuel Bennerson does just that.

If you find yourself at Samuel Bennerson, keep an eye out for Fordham students. An active community of Lincoln Center hoopers convenes regularly to compete with the best in the neighborhood. Draining shots and dropping dimes in between classes, these students inject Fordham spirit in the sport for which New York is the capital.