Saturday, November 26, 2011

Looks better from a distance: Suffolk Park playground

Playground: Suffolk Park
Location: open block park -- play equipment closest to Lindbergh Blvd. (but need to park on smaller streets off of 74th)
Date visited: 11/6/11

Equipment: A little gathering of pieces:
  • One medium (4-foot) metal arched ladder/monkey bars piece
  • A medium playset with a 4-foot platform, misc. climbing, fireman's pole, straight metal slide, monkey bars, and two hanging bars
  • Another medium/small playset with easier climbing and two straight metal slides
  • A swingset with all 6 swings missing
material: modern resin & metal; scale: small
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery around equipment; grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: baseball, soccer/football field, lots of grass!
Access: unfenced (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Underloved playground with ok equipment but jarringly absent swings, torn surfacing, and large trash pieces lying around. Big grassy fields are appealing; it's sandwiched beween a small quiet neighborhood and a busy strip-mallish flurry. An ok place for a "play snack" if errands take you this way, but nothing to go out of your way for!
Overall rating: 5

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fotterall Square: a play-snack in Glenwood

Playground: Fotterall Square
Location: full block between Cumberland and York (N-S) and 11th and 12th (E-W)
Date visited: Nov. 20, 2011

  • One playset, very worn but functional: miscellaneous climbing (including chain "rope net" style), high and low metal slides, stretch of monkey bars
  • Nearly swingset with 2 strap and 2 bucket swings (and room for 1 more of each)
Ages: 1-10
Surface: rubbery, surrounded by cement and grass
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: cement circle, basketball, baseball field, grassy areas, paths, picnic tables (near Cumberland), additional play area visible across 11th between the PHA towers (not clear if it's public or not)
Access: open square (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Pretty good variety for a single small set, nice grassy park with old trees, sandwiched between elevated train tracks and a pair of tall PHA towers. Manages to feel nice, but wouldn't draw you from anywhere outside the neighborhood.
Overall rating: 6

Penrose: climbing-rich playground just north of Temple

Playground: Penrose
Location: Susquehanna between 11th and 12th
Date visited: Nov. 20, 2011

  • Single wandering playset (3-4 ft) with miscellaneous climbing (lots!), solid bridge, and 1 straight metal slide
  • Higher playset (4-6 ft) on other side of building with lots of climbing, medium-height monkey bars, fireman's pole, very tall metal slide
  • (Used to be a swingset with 4 swings, now all missing)
Ages: 1-9
Surface: rubbery surrounded by blacktop
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: rec center, grassy area, tennis, basketball courts, pool
Access: not marked

Impressions: Well-worn but pleasantly varied play equipment. Hard to keep an eye on both spaces at once, for families with well separated ages, but reasonably fun in both spaces (especially for climbers!)
Overall rating: 7

Fairhill Square: smallish playground in a nice park

Playground: Fairhill Square
Location: Huntingdon between 4th & 5th
Date visited: Nov. 20, 2011

  • Small broad playset with lots of climbing, 1 short metal slide
  • Higher playset w/climbing, solid bridge, stretch of monkey bars, and 4 slides (1 tall, 2 medium, and 1 lower)
  • 4 strap and 2 bucket swings
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery, surrounded by cement and grass
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: large park with older trees and lots of space (when visited, all but the playground was fenced off for some renovation project); nearby elementary school, which presumably may use the park at times.
Access: open park (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Nice-looking but under-inspired group of equipment offers little for the very youngest or oldest kids, but it perfectly fine for medium kids to blow off a little steam. In pretty decent shape -- some graffiti, no trash, when visited.
Overall rating: 6 (may be improved by the return of large grassy areas...)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Torresdale Playground: an open playspace

Playground: Torresdale Playground
Location: Leon Street (near intersection of Frankford and Grant); parking lot is shared with the golf club across the street
Date visited: 10/8/11

Equipment: Three major zones on opposite sides of the rec building:
  1. Little arches of brick wall separate two tot play areas:
    • Low modern playset with 2-3-foot platforms, 3 straight plastic slides, a fireman's pole, and 4 bucket swings nearby
    • Second zone has old-style metal equipment pieces, including 3 arched climbing ladders (almost monkey bars), one radial 8-foot radial jungle gym, and a freestanding metal slide (3-4 foot) with its own steps

  2. A large cement circle encloses a water zone, with several sprayers and low curved walls

  3. The larger kid zone (far side of building) has two playsets:
    • Higher has misc. climbing, a curved stretch of monkey bars, tall (6-foot) metal slide, 1 strap swing (room for 2)
    • Lower playset has lower climbing, 4-foot metal slide, and fireman's pole
Ages: 1.5-10
Surface: rubbery around equipment; cement and grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Y
Other: lots of grass, baseball, basketball, tennis, rec. center with covered area in front (also nearby golf course)
Access: 6am-10pm (not fenced)

Impressions: Not cutting edge or unusual, but the mix of spaces and equipment, combined with the expanse of inviting grass and large trees, is appealing. Reasonable range of ages covered, although it would be hard to keep younger and older kids in sight at the same time. Would make a fun afternoon outing, with picnic (and maybe a bathing suit in midsummer) -- we had some good running-around silliness to complement our explorations of the play equipment.
Overall rating: 7

Decent space in the far NE: Holmes Rec Center

Playground: Holmes Recreation Center
Location: Holme Ave. and Willits Rd.
Date visited: 10/8/11

Equipment: Several pieces in one zone:
  • Medium playset with miscellaneous climbing (including the barrel staves kind), a missing bridge, straight metal and curved (lower) plastic slides
  • Medium playset with miscellaneous climbing, medium and tall straight metal slides, and an S-shaped stretch of monkey bars
  • 4 strap swings, and 4 bucket swings
material: worn modern resin/metal; scale: medium
Ages: 1.5-10
Surface: rubbery around equipment; brick or grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: basektball, extensive fields (baseball, football, soccer), small rec. center building, extra grass
Access: not marked (gates were open early on a Saturday)

Impressions: Adequate but underinspired mix of equipment with some parts missing -- and no graffitti but some trash -- sandwiched between two major roads. (There might be a large school on the Academy Road side of the triangle that uses all of this too.) Nice to see so much grass -- good for kids who like to run around -- but nothing to draw anybody from far away.
Overall rating: 6-7

Deserves its name: Hillside Rec. Center

Playground: Hillside Recreation Center
Location: Fountain St. near Fowler
Date visited: 10/16/11

Equipment: A tightly packed bunch of pieces:
  • Two hobby horses (horse and toucan)
  • A low playset with curved plastic and wide metal slides, misc. climbing
  • 4 bucket swings and 4 strap swings
  • A cement climbing turtle (with handholds on top and a tunnel underneath), old but loved
  • A higher playset with climbing of various kinds, a high spiral plastic slide and a single metal slide, fireman's pole
material: modern resin/metal; scale: small
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery around equipment; blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: basketball, swimming pool, picnic tables, rec. building
Access: (not posted)

Impressions: Decent neighborhood tot lot combined with pool and sports spaces. Nothing broken or missing, but not inspired either, and completely lacking in shade. Nearby elementary school probably uses it some. No houses nearby -- the recreation space is wedged into a slice of land between hard-to-build jungly hillsides, but parking is free on the other side of Fountain Road (and the Ivy Ridge train station is nearby too).
Overall rating: 6-7

Plenty to do for all ages: Kendrick Rec Center

Playground: Kendrick Rec. Center
Location: SW corner of Ridge and Roxborough Aves (enter from Pensdale)
Date visited: 10/16/11

Equipment: Several separate pieces:
  • A lower playseet with *lots* of climbing and a double metal slide (around 4 feet)
  • The larger playset has several platforms at 4-6 feet, lots of climbing, a fireman's pole, several metal slides (tall straight, medium spiral, and medium double), an elevated crawling tube, solid bridge, etc.
  • A freestanding stretch of monkey bars
  • 4 bucket swings, and room for 4 strap swings (but the latter all missing)
material: modern resin/metal; scale: medium
Ages: 1-11
Surface: rubbery/blacktop
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: roller hockey rink, baseball and football field(s), a grassy hill, basketball, tennis, giant rec. center, extra grass
Access: not marked

Impressions: Colorful and interesting equipment in the midst of a large mixed recreational space (we got to watch a game of flag football during our visit), yet sheltered in he interior of the block. Nice.
Overall rating: 8

McGuire Playground: rambly fun tucked away in Fairhill

Playground: McGuire
Location: Mascher St., just north of Lehigh Ave.
Date visited: 10/1/11

Equipment: 1 large rambly playset with many elements:
  • low jointed bridge and 3 short solid bridges
  • 4 metal slides = 1 medium straight, 1 high spiral, 2 small straight pairs
  • lots of climbing, including submarine-style tube climbing
  • monkey bars (6 feet up)
  • metal climbing rope net
  • a few low stools under the playset
  • fireman's pole
Used to be 6 swings, but all missing
Ages: 2-10
Surface: rubbery surrounded by blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: handball court, basketball (hoops but no nets)
Access: (not posted)

Impressions: Jumble of platforms and ladders is appealing despite its Impressionistic patina of graffiti. Playground needs some attention (chunks of rubbery surface missing, some rust spots on equipment, missing swings), but we had a good time there on a cool fall morning and suspect others would too.
Overall rating: 7

McPherson Square: grassy park with a small playset

Playground: McPherson Square
Location: Large block-sized park, bounded by E,F on East and West, Clearfield and Indiana North and South
Date visited: 10/1/11

Equipment: 1 small playset in a larger grassy park -- compact but decent: 1 small surved and 1 tall bumpy slide (both plastic), climbing wall (tilted), chain rope net
Ages: 1-7
Surface: rubbery by equipment, surrounded by grass
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other:some nice trees (away from equipment), library building in center of park, el tracks nearby
Access: (not posted)

Impressions: Too minimal for any sort of trip, but could make a fun "snack" if you were visiting the library branch or doing other business in the area
Overall rating: 7 (for quality), though significantly smaller than average sized

A small playspace in a rolling park: Gorgas tot lot

Playground: Gorgas Park tot lot
Location: Ridge Ave. at Gates St.
Date visited: 10/16/11

Equipment: A low (1-foot) brick wall surrounds the whole play area (with a tree in the center), which includes:
  1. A lower playset with a wide metal slide, climbable "shop window," and tic tac toe-style spinners (6x5).
  2. A higher playset with three metal slides (a tall single, medium double, and a low double), miscellaneous climbing, fireman's pole, and play stuff underneath (benches, double bus wheel, tic tac toe).
  3. Swingset, with 2 bucket and 2 strap swings.
material: modern resin + metal; scale: small
Ages: 1-8
Surface: rubbery inside play area
Shade(0-3): 3
Water: N
Other: picnic table, large park with lots of grass and trees, bandstand
Access: open (dawn to dusk+)

Impressions: Simple playground in an inviting park setting with rolling hills and lots of mature trees. More for the younger set (no monkey bars or greater challenges), but great for a family picnic or to hear a regional band play. Great shade and breeze for a hot day (although a bit brisk at the time of our fall visit).
Overall rating: 7

Hissey Center: zone for the smaller set in Kensington

Playground: Hissey Center
Location: Indiana Ave. & Budinot St.
Date visited: 10/1/11

  • Medium-height small platform with straight metal slide and several ladders
  • Several cement climbing animals ranging from a foot-high turtle (perfect for crawlers) to a standing turtle, and sitting elephant & camel
  • Four bucket swings
  • Higher playset with miscellaneous climbing and 1 tall straight metal slide
  • Several large zones of rubbery surface with no equipment (maybe used to have 1 set of swings and 1 other piece?)
material: modern res/metal; scale: large
Ages: 0-7
Surface: rubbery, separated by blacktop
Shade(0-3): 2
Water: N
Other: basketball, baseball field (?) and extra grass, extra blacktop
Access: (not posted)

Impressions: Nicely shaded playground looks a little forgotten--missing equipment makes you think less of the small pieces that remain. In fact, what's here is probably pretty good for the smallest set (especially toddlers), although some broken glass may keep crawlers from playing at liberty here.
Overall rating: 5