Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A welcome retreat in West Philly: Clark Park playground

Playground: Clark Park
Location: 43rd & Chester (1 block south of Baltimore), SW corner
Date visited: 7/28/10 (late afternoon)

Equipment: Two zones within a few yards of each other:
  • Tot lot (marked 2-5 years) has two playsets: (1) good-sized standard playset, with two slides (both metal), a narrow solid bridge/walkway that would give toddlers a safe thrill of adventure, unusual kinds of climbing options, and under-set play zones (a crawl-through hole, "shop window," etc.); (2) a smaller, lower, dinosaur-shaped piece with low steps and climbing and two smaller (plastic) slides, as well as a crawl space/fort underneath. There are also 4 bucket swings in this zone.

  • Older kid area is also multi-level, with a range of challenges including 3 slides of different heights (all metal, 4-7 ft), a rope climbing net, a ring-based monkeybar stretch, a solid bridge, and a variety of spaces underneath (hole, bench, window, etc.). Also 3 strap swings and one chair swing in this zone.
material: modern resin & metal, plus rope wall; scale: large play area in extensive park.
Ages: 1-10 (12?)
Surface: rubbery throughout play areas
Shade(0-3): 2+
Water: N
Other: big grassy park with paths, picnic and play areas, basketball court, low stone wall; water ice cart and 2 semi-permanent porta-potties present on day of visit; occasional theatrical and musical events in the evenings
Access: unfenced

Impressions: A cheerful and neighborhoody playground, busy but not crowded, with colorful equipment in a pleasant open park full of mature trees -- the presence of additional green areas across the streets to east (a garden) and north (more park, including a cement climbing turtle) increase the feeling of expansiveness here. The equipment seems very well designed for a range of ages, and includes types of climbing in both zones that we hadn't seen before. Great for families with kids of many ages, and for combining play with a picnic or trip to a nearby cafe (I glimpsed patio tables a little farther up 43rd). Also happily multiethnic. Worth a trip!
Overall rating: 9

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