Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ziehler playground: ample playground, could use some shade

Playground: Ziehler
Location: B St at Olney
Date visited: Jun. 17, 2013

Equipment:
  • Smaller fenced-in zone with fun "firetruck" jungle gym (with low monkey bars) and a low playset with a tube slide (empties even with the ground), 2 medium straight slides, climbing, "tic-tac-toe" critters, and 4 bucket swings
  • Zone for bigger kids with 4 strap swings (1 missing) and a higher playset with six slides (including straight, bumpy, spiral and tube slides, all plastic) and lots of climbing options
Ages: 1-9
Surface: rubbery amid blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: basketball, baseball, and soccer fields; extra blacktop and grassy areas; colorful rec center with covered picnic area, swimming pool
Access: 10-6?

Impressions: This playground is a bit faded and worn (with some loose trash and graffiti), but actually offers reasonable play options for younger frolickers, in a setting of wide grassy ball fields.  Middle school across the street probably generates some weekday traffic, but lots of places for a shady picnic on the weekend.  The thing this space most needs is more shade, and there are several grassy squares in the pavement offering places to start a tree-planting project.

Overall rating: 6

Barrett/Lindley playground: nice spot in North Philly for the smaller kids especially

Playground: Barrett Playground (according to sign onsite; Google map calls it Lindley playground)
Location: 8th and Duncannon (location of playground; large field is on Lindley, at 7th)
Date visited: Jun 17, 2013

Equipment:
  • Small kids' zone (fenced in, shady) has a cement turtle (can climb on or under), 4 bucket swings and a small playset with a jointed bridge and three plastic slides (2 straight, 1 curved)
  • Bigger playset has 3 tall straight slides (2 plastic, 1 metal), 1 spiral plastic slide, monkey bars, and a fireman's pole
  • 4 strap swings near bigger playset
  • freestanding "totem pole" water sprayer, surrounded by a cement circle
Ages: 1-11
Surface: rubbery, though dried out/hardened in spots
Shade(0-3): 1 (some in small-kids zone, none in big-kids zone)
Water: Y (see above)
Other: chess tables, extra blacktop, tennis courts, large football field (plus multiple baseball, though seemed largely unused), basketball, small rec center
Access: fenced in, but not sure about hours, presumably standard rec center hours

Impressions: Nice spot for little kids, with a deeply shady protected corner of the park.  Decent offering for older kids, but the equipment gets no shade from the many trees (although the swings do) and the raggedy ground surfaces and occasional trash and graffiti detract a bit from the experience.  Basically fine, with a relatively quiet residential setting, but not a draw from any distance

Overall rating: 7

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A little playspace between rowhouses and industrial stretches in Brewerytown

Playground: Unnamed
Location: Jefferson at 30th
Date visited: 7/27/13

Equipment: Two zones, close together but fenced:
  • The playset is large and meandering, which is fun in itself. It includes two high slides (straight and spiral) and one lower (curved), all metal; a solid bridge; crawl-through hoops and store window underneath (+ small bench). There is also a set of "stepping stone stools" here.
  • The second "room" of the playspace has swings: 4 strap and 2 bucket. This also opens onto a lot of extra grassy area, including a great hill for rolling or running down.
material: modern resin/metal; space: small
Ages: 1-10
Surface: rubbery
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: nice basketball courts, baseball diamond
Access: not marked (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: A little corner space nicely divided up into quadrants for play and sports. Beter-than-average playset, given the space, but the playground could use some love, especially on the trash-containment and graffitti-fighting fronts. (Lack of signage may result from this being a private undertaking -- maybe an Eagles project? -- so not under city oversight.) All-metal slides were hot on a sunny day, but the grassy hillside is very enticing!
Overall rating: 6

A second visit: A new face for Francisville playground

Playground: Francisville Rec. Center playground
Location: Wiley, close to 19th and Brown (rec space fills most of block) -- there are many entrance gates
Date visited: 7/27/13
Equipment: Three distinguishable zones:
  1. One structure here has lower platforms, two plastic slides (one curved and one bumpy), one tall metal slide, and misc. climbing including a rope net. There's also a medium-sized playset with two metal slides (one wide and one narrow, both straight), climbing, and a shop window and bench underneath. There are two bucket and four strap swings nearby.
  2. There's an updated water zone with a cute central palm tree and a ring of pavement sprayers. (We didn't see this in action.)
  3. This zone has a lone playset with one metal slide (left from before the update?) and a lot of fun games painted on the ground (incl. hopscotch and a maze race) and a low brick wall.
material: modern resin/metal; scale: large
Ages: 1-8ish
Surface: colorful rubbery around equipment; blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Y
Other: basketball, playing fields, colorfully painted rec building, pool
Access: 9:00AM-10:30PM (summer); 2:00pm-10:30pm (winter)

Impressions: We went back to this playground (review from 2009 here) after a tip that it had had a facelift. It is indeed more colorful and inviting, and equipment is fresh and functional (as reflected in our improved rating). However, there is still nothing to challenge older kids (e.g., monkey bars or spinners) or really make this a top draw for those from other parts of town. Still, nice trees could shade a picnic for a longer day, and with both a sprayground and a pool, this playground worth considering for hot summer afternoons.
Overall rating: 7-8

A playspace in the gap between Temple and Girard colleges: M. L. King Rec Center

Playground: King playground
Location: On Cecil B. Moore Ave between 21st and 22nd
Date visited: 7/27/13

Equipment: One zone with several components:
  • A tall playset with two tall plastic slides (bumpy and spiral), a jointed bridge, etc. There are 4 strap swings nearby.
  • A smaller playset with a straight metal and a curved plastic slide, solid bridge, tic tac toe animals, etc. There are two bucket swings nearby.
  • A water zone = a cement circle with a pole that mists in all directions.
  • Not official play equipment, but inviting: a long series of low walls to walk along.
material: modern resin + metal; scale of space: med/large
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery/blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y
Other: picnic tables (one missing its top), basketball, another fenced cement area (handball? hockey?), ball fields (baseball and football), swimming pool, extra grass, large rec center (partially serving as an adult/seniors building)
Access: dawn to dusk?

Impressions: Perfectly adequate equipment for neighborhood play, but nothing to go out of your way for (unless you plan to swim). Nice grassy fields for a ball or frisbee break.
Overall rating: 6

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ramp: upscale playground and athletic area in the shadow of Father Judge HS

Playground: Ramp
Location: Solly Ave. (at Rowland)
Date visited: 5/12/13

Equipment:
  • bigger playset: tall straight and spiral slides (metal), fireman's pole, solid bridge, lots of climbing, arched monkey bars, tall and short hanging bars
  • small playset: low curved and tall wavy (mogul) slides (plastic), solid bridge, climbing, tic-tac-toe galore
  • six strap and two bucket slides
Ages: 1.5-11
Surface: rubbery/blacktop
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Y (single pole)
Other: fancy baseball (little league, and used by Father Judge HS), basketball, rec center with covered area, hockey court, extra grassy areas
Access: M-F 1-9 PM, Sa Su 9 AM-5 PM

Impressions: Busy and cheerful playground surrounded by a range of well-maintained athletic space.  Decently designed for a range of ages (although no particular novelties) and shaded grass areas invite a picnic
Overall rating: 8

Pelbano: NE playground not quite up to the level of its partner rec center

Playground: Pelbano
Location: Bustleton Ave. (at Stanwood)
Date visited: 5/12/13

Equipment:
  • big playset: high wavy plastic slide, low double straight plastic slide, bus wheels, monkey bar spinners, miscellaneous climbing, broken game underneath, broken swing toy (?)
  • small playset: five plastic slides (two straight, two curved, one bumpy)
  • two strap swings, two bucket swings  
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Y (single sprayer)
Other: rec center (basketball inside), basketball court, baseball field, extra grass, paved walks for skating, etc., extra blacktop, tennis courts (no nets)

Impressions: Large and well-kept (or new) rec center and extensive athletic space is appealing, but the play equipment offers little to challenge or even interest kids over about 3.  A couple broken pieces, in conjunction with missing basketball and tennis nets could indicate neglect or just that things weren't yet brought online for the season when visited in mid-May.  Popularity of strap swings indicates another pair would be justified.
Overall rating: 6