The Rec

Celebrating a Former Street-ball Mecca

The following illustration recreates what a typical afternoon at Sarasota’s legendary Newtown Recreational Center, the Rec, would have looked like in the 1970s. Street-ballers sat with onlookers in the shade on the west side of the court, waiting to test their mettle against local heroes.

Jacob Benison, Reportorial Illustration, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 17 July 2005.

Chris Anderson
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 17 July 2005

The backboards were wooden, the nets were chain links and the drinking fountain was always clogged with dirt.

Street-ball wizards built their legends there. Construction workers played there, too, and often in steel-toed boots. Even NBA players showed up at the place where paramedics were called more often than fouls.

It was simply an outdoor basketball court surrounded by pine trees on 34th Street, but once you reached it, once you touched it, once you survived it, your life could change forever.

“It was almost like a sacred ground,” Derrick Kirce said.

For 27 years, and probably longer, the hub of Sarasota playground basketball was the Newtown Recreation Center, or the Rec, as it was known.

Illustration Process

The background of this private family photo shows the legendary basketball court on a quiet day in May of 1971.

In this satellite image, a green outline marks the location of the original court, replaced in 1975 by an indoor facility.

Above, a perspective drawing shows a vantage point just above the west side of the court. Below, a preliminary sketch echoes the final composition.

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