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One-wall Handball


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location. brooklyn
keywords. handball wall urban playground

Location : Coney Island, Brooklyn, West 5th St. & Surf Ave.

According to some, the beaches of South Brooklyn are the birthplace of what's called one-wall handball (as opposed to three or four-wall handball). Back in the 1900's, Irish immigrants used to play the game during low tide against the long jetties.

The Rebirth of One-Wall

The original Irish game of one-wall handball had been pretty much abandoned along the way, but the one-wall version was ironically re-invented on South Brooklyn bathing beaches early in the 20th century.
It began on beaches that were protected against erosion by long wooden jetties. At low tide, when the side of a jetty was out of the water, bathers staged impromptu games using a worn tennis ball. Areas were marked out in the sand and several games were often going on simultaneously.

The first dedicated one-wall court was put up at Parkway Baths in 1909. It became so popular that other beach clubs soon had their own courts. Other courts were built indoors by athletic clubs during the 1920s and New York City erected hundreds of outdoor courts in city parks during the 1930s. The AAU staged a variety of city, metropolitan, and state tournaments, and finally a national tournament, all centered in the New York metropolitan area. Interest in one-wall handball declined after World War II, but in 1959 the USHA held its first national championship tournament. That increased competition and the championship has been held annually since then, with a two-year hiatus in 1975 and 1976.

For further details, check :

For some found video excerpts :

Handball Warriors :

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