Places that Matter

The Cage (West 4th St. Courts)

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Jedediah Baker
Jedediah Baker
Jedediah Baker
Jedediah Baker
Jedediah Baker
Basketball court preferred by players and spectators
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Place Matters Profile

This basketball court, in a park at the corner of West 4th Street and 6th Avenue, in the heart of Greenwich Village, draws basketball lovers from around the city, and even around the world. They come to a court just half regulation size that is literally encaged by a 20-foot high chain-link fence both to play ball and to watch some of the best street basketball in the world, let alone New York City. "The Cage," as the court is known, hosts the West 4th Summer League, the oldest summer-basketball program in New York City.

The Cage is one of New York City’s most popular spots for street basketball. In a city that all but invented basketball as a street sport, this is no minor achievement. The Cage is widely known for generating NBA stars and hosting celebrity pick-up games. In recent years, it has become a backdrop to soda commercials and been covered by ESPN. But the flourish of celebrity involvement has come about as a result of the Cage’s importance and not the other way around.

The Cage’s formal park name is the “West 4th Street Courts.” The Cage and the several parks adjacent to it were acquired by the city in the late 1920s when it widened 6th Avenue to install the IND subway and to fit the West Village’s street pattern into the grid system that prevailed farther uptown. The areas were turned over to the Parks Department in 1934, and the Cage was paved as a playground in 1935.