Sunday, November 22, 2009

Running and climbing, free from cars: Penn's central square

Playground: Levy Park on the U.Penn. campus
Location: follow the walkway SW from 34th & Walnut, or North (then E) from 36th and Spruce
Date visited: several times in summer/fall 2009

Equipment: Paved walkways, grassy areas, a large button sculpture that can be clambered on, a flight of sub-standard-size steps, and grassy hills of various steepness.
Ages: 1-3
Surface: Grass, stone, pavement.
Shade(0-3): 2
Water: N
Other: People-watching, benches, occasional events.
Access: college campus green, with expected flows of traffic and occasional events.

Impressions: A great change of pace for new walkers and other explorers -- this campus expanse offers grassy areas good for lounging, picnicking, or playing, as well as walkways in many directions, all of which is well buffered from automobile traffic. Additional great toddler features include the famous Button sculpture, which is irresitable to young climbers (who can drop down through the holes), and a flight of shortish steps (look to your left when facing the button and library) that make for great practice stairs -- my 18-21-month old and I average 6-8 trips up and down per visit. She also loves running down the grassy hill at the end of her more serious work... Downsides include large numbers of pedestrians, depending on the time of day, and occasional tents or other activities that take over the prime real estate here. Upsides include numerous restaurants and coffee shops in the vicinity (especially along Walnut and Sansom). For those with kids who love buses as much as mine does, this plaza also makes a great cross-town destination; catch the 42 or 21 on Walnut (get off at 34th) or the 40 along Lombard (get off on Spruce after it returns from its detour) for a pleasant outing.
Overall rating: 9 (for toddlers only)

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