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The Cage, A Place That Matters

west village west 4th street basketball courts cage shotThe West 4th Street Courts, aka “the Cage,” at West 4th Street and Avenue of the Americas, was one of ten 2008 Place Matters honorees for creating public space. The site now occupied by the West 4th Street Courts was originally acquired by the City in the 1920s as a result of the widening of Sixth Avenue. Though the site was not formally assigned to the Parks Department until 1953, a playground had opened at the location in 1935. Some time during the 1950s, the lot was paved and basketball hoops were installed. This court, only half of regulation size and literally encaged by a 20-foot high chain-link fence (hence its nickname), draws basketball lovers from all over the city, and moreover the world. These basketball aficionados come both to play and watch some of the best street-ball there is. Each year, the Cage hosts the West 4th Street Summer League.  Founded by Kenny Graham in 1977, the league is the oldest summer basketball program in New York City and the only tournament that runs seven-days-a-week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Cage is world renowned as a training ground for those who may eventually make the jump to the pros, like Mario Ely, Anthony Mason, Rod Strickland, Jason Williams, Stephan Marbury, and Smush Parker.  But more importantly, it is a place where many who love the game can come to play at the highest level or press against the fence to watch in awe. To read the nomination for the Cage, log on to Place Matters.  Please tell your friends about these places of history, memory, and culture and invite them to join the Place Matters e-mail list.