Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fringes of Fairmount: Francisville Rec. Center playground

Playground: Francisville
Location: officially 1750 Wiley, close to 19th and Brown -- fills whole irregular city block (enter on W or E sides; many gates)
Date visited: 10/3/09

Equipment: Two zones, widely separated:
  • Tiny tot zone has a quite low playset with several types of climbing access but only one (metal) slide, two bucket swings nearby. A little ways off, near the entrance, is a cute old train-shaped climbing bar apparatus.
  • Older kid zone (fenced) has a larger playset with two levels, one having two shorter (plastic) slides with bumps and turns and various types of ladders, and the other having a single higher (metal) straight slide (and taller ladders). A solid arched bridge connects the two. Also strap swings nearby and an old-fashioned free-standing metal slide (7 feet tall?).
material: modern resin, somewhat weathered; scale: large
Ages: 1-7?
Surface: rubbery around equipment, blacktop elswhere (or grass)
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Y (angled spray? off at visit)
Other: rec. center, pool, basketball courts, ball fields, extra blacktop and grassy areas
Access: dawn to dusk?

Impressions: Extensive playground and recreation center fills a block at the boundary between nicely tended rowhouses and abandoned lots; a number of cheery murals attest to the neighborhood's determination to come out on top. Lots of parking is available all around. The playground is also large and inviting, and everything is in good condition, although the playsets look weathered and there are big divots in the composite surface under the swings. The equipment, however, is a little uninspiring in practice, being a bit too reliant on ladder permutations at the expense of other types of play. Overall, a good neighborhood resource, but not a cross-town attractor.
Overall rating: 6

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cheesesteak Central: Capitolo Playground

Playground: Capitolo
Location: 900 Federal St (South Philadelphia)
Date visited: Sep. 22, 2009

Equipment: 2 sets of apparatus, one for toddlers (climbable even for crawlers, two slides, longish bridge with 90-degree turn) and one for slightly older kids (several slides including a one spiral and one with moguls, and several climbing access points). 8 swings (4 bucket and 4 strap). 1 sprinkler. 2 riding-animals on springs
Ages: toddlers, maybe up to early elementary age?
Surface: rubberized around the aparatus, sidewalk elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 2 (fair collection of small trees around the whole area)
Water: Y -- one tall-ish sprinker (not operating when visited)
Other: extensive rec. center facilities, with fields and courts, etc.
Access: several blocks south of Washington Ave. on 9th St, also close to 47 bus line

Impressions: Playground is fairly big and a part of a block-sized recreational complex including a large baseball field and a community center. Oh, and did I mention that it's DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM GENO'S STEAKS? It's quite an odd experience sitting in a playground with an intense odor of cheesesteaks surrounding you. Apart from that, it's quite a nice environment. The main equipment itself is fairly standard and a bit underwhelming for older kids, but everything is in decent shape, there are ample swings, and even a few small extras (ride-on animals, sprinkler). Plus, you're a block from a cute cafe at 8th and Wharton (shameless plug).
Overall rating: 6