Basketball court at 2600 block of St. Paul (at 26th Street)
This basketball court functions as a tool for opening the city by providing anyone a space to play basketball. The courts rests on the east corner of 26th and St. Paul, which is a block doesn’t quite have a corner because the edge normally created by the road is replaced here (the west half of 26th street between Calvert and St Paul) by a pavement walkway, a garden, a playground, a school (Margaret Brent Elementary) and a tiny parking lot. The basketball court neighbors the school but is often used by people living in the area. The garden next to the court is shaded and lush with vegetables.
The court opens the city because it is highly visible by those in the park across the street, in the school, in the playground, in the garden, by the bus stop across the street or by those passing by on St. Paul. The space is well lit and almost always open. The court doesn’t offer basketballs, but all four hoops are usable and usually one is open. There are often people playing there that are friendly or at least will play with strangers. One thing that makes this court stand out as especially accessible to me is that, as a pretty weak (basketball skill wise) white woman, I have felt more comfortable in this court than others I’ve played in. I can not cite a spatial reason for this but it may involve those who I play with; I often come to the court with mostly female neighbors who live near the court or on my block (which is also a 5 minute walk from the court). The people we play with are generally young men of color who are friendly. Sometimes we play games or just shoot, ranging from how many people are on the court.
The downfalls to the space include its hours – closing as dusk and opening at dawn, but like most city parks this is standard. Though the space is lined with gates and has a sign with the hours, it is also lined with street lamps and is often left unlocked and frequented after dark. Additionally, the space is not crowded or surrounded by stores, however it is near a residential community and a major commercial streets. (25th Street)