Sunday, October 31, 2010

The far south: Greenwich Rec. Center

Playground: Greenwich Recreation Center
Location: 3rd and Shunk (SW)
Date visited: 10/9/10

Equipment: Two playsets in close proximity:
  1. Very low (2.5-foot) platform, with easy climbing, animal-body "tic tac toe" variant, a solid flat bridge, and double plastic slide(s).
  2. Taller has good mix of climbing, one straight metal and one spiral plastic slide, and monkey bars.
Two bucket and one strap swing, and an extra piece of equipment that has straight bars for hanging or climbing.
Ages: 1-7
Surface: rubbery composite around equipment; grass or cement elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1+
Water: N
Other: swimming pool, football field, extra grassy area, basketball, mural-covered rec center, and extra blacktop with painted games
Access: not marked

Impressions: Nice large space overall, but compact play zone. Equipment is colorful but abused -- worn holes in the rubbery surface, graffitti and missing paint, and, worst, stubs of former equipment jutting up just a little above the ground...
Overall rating: 6

Eagles Unity Playground (in Mifflin Square)

Playground: Eagles Unity Playground
Location: 6th and Wolf (open)
Date visited: 10/9/10 (Saturday at noon)

Equipment: Two main playsets:
  • Larger has monkey bars, swinging rings, a zip line (ring missing), lots of climbing types, parallel bars, solid and jointed bridges, one metal slide (a second one missing and boarded up), and benches underneath.
  • Smaller has steps and simple climbing, double plastic slides (soaked with mud/coffee/worse at visit).
Also what appears to be a set of water sprayers in a large cement circle (off at time of October visit), and a set of swings (2 strap, 2 bucket).
Ages: 1-8 (10?)
Surface: rubbery around equip.; cement, brick, grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0 (larger), 2 (smaller)
Water: Y?
Other: Volleyball pits, basketball, lots of grass, small picnic table area
Access: open (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Cheerful and fun, with lots of options packed into each piece of equipment. However, in need of upkeep, from missing or broken pieces to trash issues. Lots of happy kids there when we visited, in a range of ethnicities. Interesting gold-leaf-covered Thai temple across the street to the south.
Overall rating: 7

Far West Philly: Christy Recreation Center

Playground: Christy Rec. Center playground
Location: 56th & Webster (park extends to Christian and 55th); playground on north side
Date visited: 10/31/10

Equipment: Big stretch of swings, including 8 strap and 4 bucket, and two playsets:
  • Smaller has a 3-4 foot platform with lots of climbing of varied difficulty and one metal slides. There are also two hobby horses in this area (one horse and one pelican).

  • Larger has platforms from 4-6 feet high, lots of climbing, and two straight metal slides of different heights.
material: weathered resin & metal; scale: small playspace in larger park
Ages: 2-7
Surface: rubbery around equipment; blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: swimming pool, basketball court, large grassy field (including a baseball diamond), large rec. center. and tennis courts with no nets
Access: not posted

Impressions: Weathered but perfectly adequate older playground. Hobby horses and extra swings are pluses, as are the range of ladder types for curious climbers. But nothing special here to pull anybody from outside the neighborhood.
Overall rating: 6

A mix of unusual offerings: Malcolm X Park

Playground: Malcolm X Park
Location: between Pine & Larchwood, 51st & 52nd
Date visited: 10/31/10

Equipment: Several structures in two neighboring zones: One zone combines the equipment designed for smaller kids (marked 2-5) with a subzone of individual challenging pieces aimed at a range of ages; the second zone is a large playset intended for older kids (marked 5-12).
  • The small kid playset has two metal slides and some low ladders. There are also two trucks made of metal and wood, that an be attempted by even pretty small kids. Also right here are two "spaceship" pieces that offer various ways to enter (under, through a hole, etc.) and some dashboard-looking gizmos for pretend play. There's also a purple gizmo that promises some sort of auditory interaction, but it's either broken or inscrutible.

    The more adventure-seeming subzone here has a very low balance beam enclosed by rails (although tots will need overhead hands to attempt it) and a similar piece where the walking is on the suspension chains themselves (also inches from the ground). For older kids, there's a wavy narrow "balance beam" that's a couple of feet off the ground (no rails), a climbing net (metal, partly broken) to a fireman's pole, a short stretch of monkey bar rings, a zip line ring, and a set of angled climbing rails that offer a challenge for the more adventurous. There's also a sort of climbing wall here (with footholes rather than knobs), and a little gazebo-covered table with stools around it (several missing their seats).

  • The larger playset has a range of challenging climbing options, 4 metal slides (2 straight, 1 double, 1 spiral), and solid bridges. Also connected is another long zip line ring, some climbing walls, and a balance/bounce platform (I dunno how to describe this, but it was fun). Nearby is a pair of plastic basketball hoops at different heights in the center of a small cement area.
material: modern resin and metal, or as marked; scale: substantial play space inside a full-block park
Ages: 1-12
Surface: rubbery around equipment, mostly grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 2
Water: N
Other: picnic table, small covered area (bandstand?), tiny muraled building (shed? rec. center?), grassy park

Access: open park (dawn to dusk?)
Impressions: Wonderfully colorful and creative playground with challenges for all ages, in a grassy park full of mature trees. Some graffitti and signs of abuse, but not yet enough to interfere with the wealth of fun here. Rating docked for lack of swings, which can be critical for babies, but otherwise pretty neat, and worth a trip from other parts of town. Definitely stuff here we've never seen anywhere else, especially for families with kids of varied ages.
Also note: coffee shop and pizza place both across the street widen the options for an outing here.
Overall rating: 9

Thursday, October 21, 2010

East of Temple, Part II: 8th & Diamond playground

Playground: 8th & Diamond
: SW corner of 8th & Diamond
Date visited: 10/17/10

Equipment: one playset, generally aimed at younger kids, with miscellaneous climbing, 1 solid bridge, 2 metal slides (3 ft, 4 ft), bench and tic-tac-toe underneath, 4 strap swings (straps at 2 heights), 4 bucket swings
Ages: 1-5
Surface: spongy by equipment, blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Yes (sprayer on post in cement area, off when visited)
Other: basketball court, small rec center
Access: 6 AM - 10 PM

Impressions: Limited age range, but appealing for that age range -- especially good for kids starting to be interested in ladders, as there are a range of challenges available. Kept up in reasonable shape (e.g. there was a community garden, and a Sunday AM church service in the rec center when visited).
Overall rating: 7

East of Temple: McKinley Eagles playground

Playground: McKinley Eagles Playground
Location: Orkney and Susquehanna (SE corner)
Date visited: 10/17/10

Equipment: 1 substantial playset, including some climbing, 3 metal slides (2 straight 1 spiral), zip-line, row of stepping stones, hanging bar, jointed bridge, puppet window, no swings
Ages: 2-8
Surface: spongy near equipment, blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: No
Other: basketball courts, picnic table
Access: not posted

Impressions: Equipment is reasonable but not extensive: just one playset, no swings, no extras. Aesthetically, there are significant plusses---colorful murals on the adjacent school and colorful cupolas over the platforms of the playset---though we're talking about a sea of blacktop with no trees.
Overall rating: 7