We’ve been working with the crew at Sesame Street for more than five years now and we’ve picked up more than a few secrets along the way. They’ve taught us a tremendous amount about kids digital media; about the kind of simple, intuitive UX that kids will instantly immerse themselves in. They’ve taught us how to integrate kids learning curriculum into new and emerging technologies (and, not to boast, but we may have taught them a few lessons about that too). We’ve learnt our ABCs and our 123s.
One thing we haven’t learnt, one thing we are yet to discover, one question we are still waiting to have answered is the very first question they ever posed: can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?
The first time we visited Sesame Street was at the Sesame Workshop HQ opposite the Lincoln Centre, smack bang in the middle of Manhattan. Somehow it didn’t feel like the Sesame Street we knew as kids. (Although we did get to meet Ernie and Bert!)
It was way back in 2010 and we were meeting with Joey Egger, now EP of Two Moos, but back then a senior producer working with the Sesame digital team. We thought when Joey joined our team she would give us the low down on the location of the street. Alas, it was not to be. While Joey brought with her a wealth of experience in kids digital media, she too was searching for the exact origin of Elmo and the gang.
She did, however, give us an important clue. After carefully watching the 1978 movie “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street” she noticed that the gang spent time at the 86th Street subway stop.
If that wasn’t evidence enough, in the 2002 episode “Elmo Visits the Firehouse” there is a fire at Mr Hooper’s store. Who comes to the rescue? Engine Company 58/Ladder 26. This engine company serves East Harlem and the north end of Central Park. Combining these two clues puts the street’s location on or near the Upper East Side.
At this point we felt satisfied that we were zeroing in on a definitive location. Then the bomb dropped. Watching the latest season we noticed that …
… Sesame Street looks a LOT like our street here in Dumbo. Could it be? Is it true? DO WE LIVE ON SESAME STREET?
Perhaps it would be best to consider the words of the very source of the Sesame world, creator Joan Ganz Cooney. During a talk at New York’s Museum of Television and Radio in 1994 she revealed that she had originally wanted to name the series “123 Avenue B”. A quick google search showed us that would place the location in Alphabet City, in the very eastern section of the East Village. According to Michael Davis’ definitive history, “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street“, the title was later changed to be more universal.
And maybe that’s the point. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Sesame Street, it’s that we’re all in this together. Maybe we all live on Sesame Street?