Speaking of Playgrounds

Speaking of playgrounds, I was perusing mental_floss and they have a list of Ten Unusual Playgrounds from around the World. Wow! Fun! Here is the kind of playground I remember from my youth. ede32088117d5945_large(No,no…that’s not me!) Not terribly unusual I guess, but still fun, right?

While searching for just the right jungle gym image on the internet, I found out that The Playground is a rather hot topic. There are books such as American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space by Susan G. Solomon. There are blogs devoted to playgrounds. There are blogs that discuss playgrounds. And there is even a classic urban planning video preserved for all time on YouTube (thank you daddytypes.com). “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” by William Whyte is fascinating (despite his reference to “girl watchers”), particularly the footage of children playing in the street as well as his perspective on playgrounds. He proudly presents an Adventure Playground in New York City that he describes as a very good one with “lots of dirt and mud and water that kids love so much”. It’s also filled with lots and lots of construction debris. I’m not sure that this playground would fly for those parents referenced in the previous post. Because, gosh, a big kid might use the hammer on a little kid instead of…the orange crate it was intended for!

PS I showed the video to my 10 year old daughter and asked if she would like to play on that kind of playground. Her eyes lit up and she said, “Sure!”

19 Responses

  1. We’ve played at #3. I have to hunt down the kids there when it’s time to go, because it’s absolutely impossible to keep an eye on them both, it’s so big. So you have to be a little Free Range to be comfortable having your kids play there…

  2. My kids love Fairy Tale Town in Sacramento, CA. It was built when my mother was a child, I think, and the kids just have a blast. The Crooked Mile there in particular strikes me as something that they couldn’t get away with building today but the kids just adore. Twisty, narrow, going from a few inches to a couple feet above ground and no handrails or padding beneath.

  3. There’s also Playground Builders (http://playgroundbuilders.org/), they build playgrounds in war torn places like Gaze and Afghanistan.

  4. Oops, I didn’t think the URLifier would include the closing parenthesis: http://playgroundbuilders.org/

  5. Very cool.

  6. I’m in Houston. I like discovery green park to take my niece to. It has a nice play area with a variety of things that appeal to kids of different sizes. It also has a water play area and a pond for model boats. They have concerts, farmers market, and the restaurants are green powered – mostly solar. They also have different art installations.


  7. There’s a very unusual, small playground not too far from where I live, and it’s located across the street from a museum downtown. Problem is some city officials had to put up a sign saying “playground”, and forbidding anyone over the age of twelve from playing on it as parents thought the playground was a bunch of sculptures (and high school kids in the area like to vandalize and climb public art unfortunately) and didn’t allow their kids to play on it.

  8. I’m not a voluminous blogger, but I’m doing reports on playgrounds in Cincinnati. #2 is in the pipeline right now.


  9. A couple of weeks ago I went with my Mom to the private school that her and my Dad went to. We took my 1 yr old out to the playground. As I was looking around I realized that all of the playground equipment was metal, and the ground cover was rocks. No plastic or rubber anywhere in sight! I told my mom that if this were a public school all of the equipment would have been replaced years ago with “safe” stuff. I’m glad that there are still some fun and cool playgrounds out there!

  10. That picture above brought back memories. We had one of those in my elementary school playground. All of those parks look awesome! I want to plan a girl’s weekend to the senior playground. I wonder if they allow liquor….

  11. Great list – makes me want to take a playground tour of the world!

    Yerba Buena Gardens is indeed a fabulous park – and I think I’ve also made a plug for Berkeley’s Adventure Playground in this space – hammers, nails, saws, kid-made play structures and thousands of happy, creative, dirty un-harmed children for more than 30 years 🙂


  12. I used to live in a small mning town known as Bisbee, AZ. They still have all of their old playground equipment as well as new stuff. There is approximately 1 playground or every 2 miles in town. It’s awesome!

  13. i’m surprised they don’t list the Rainbow Valley Mall Playground in Miami, built by the AWESOME team at Friends With You!


  14. I am so pathetically unhip. Is it offensive to even watch girls? Is it offensive, in the context of observing behavior patterns in public places, to admit that there are some guys who like to watch girls?

  15. I was watching my own kids at a playground last summer, and maybe because I’m an older mom or something, I had other moms looking at me in concern, with “Let’s go over *here*”, etc. And when I moved towards one of the big play pieces to get my 4-year-old, one of the moms actually moved to intercept me! I mean, moving with intent, scowling, hands on hips. Fortunately, my 4-year-old poked her head out and yelled “Mommy!” right at that moment. I really don’t know what that lady was going to do. She thought *I* was freaky? I’ve never had anything like that happen before.

    Makes me wonder what this type of person used to do in the days when urban kids played in the streets. If they’re panicking so much about the idea of someone else possibly watching their children on a public playground, what would they do if their kids were playing in an area where there could be all kinds of people home, looking out their windows?

    Nothing, that’s what. Because back then, people with that attitude would have been considered the neighborhood freak.

  16. Any readers from Cambridge, MA?

    We were staying at a hotel near Harvard Square a couple of months ago & my daughter woke up at an ungodly hour. We wound up at a playground on Cambridge Common. It was like Shangri-la, especially compared to the playgrounds in our neighborhood in NYC. Sand, toys, slides, rides. Well, I googled it to give the info to a friend who was going to be visiting Cambridge and found this link giving it a somewhat scathing review: http://www.cctvcambridge.org/node/25690

    Guess it’s hard to please all of the people all of the time.

  17. This makes me think of Forest River Park near our house in Salem, Massachusetts. It has a pretty steep cement slide that’s been there for ages. Kids bring cardboard boxes from home and slide down and have a ball. Do they sometimes slip off and get a bit of road rash? Sure, but it’s a blast nonetheless.

    The parents all stand around and talk about how amazing it is that no one’s sued the city to get the thing removed.:)

  18. We used to go to a park in Anaheim CA, I think it was called Hillcrest, because of the hills, and either race down on a) blocks of ice ( I know, stupid but way fun) or b) Big Wheels. Try it when you are a 6 foot teenager.

    As for helicopter moms, when my oldest son was a toddler (he’s 28 now) I was a stay at home dad for about a year. I would take him to the local playground, and the moms would immediately get off the benches and sit next to their kids in the sand. When I was pushing my son on the swings, the other kids would say push me, push me, I just said no, one is enough. Not stupid.

    After a while, I was a regular and the moms would actually talk to me, but when I noticed that when I arrived, they would change the subject from how to get stains out of kids clothes, diapers, to politics and “issues.” I needed to know about stains and diapers, but oh well. At least they didn’t beat me.

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