Friday, January 13, 2012

Cute neighborhood square: Nichols Park playground

Playground: Nichols Park playground
Location: Race between 55th and Conestoga
Date visited: 12/31/11

Equipment: Two playsets in a single zone:
  • Lower playset has some climbing, 2 plastic and 1 metal slide, and a solid bridge
  • Higher playset has misc. climbing (including a disk ladder, metal rope net), 2 low straight slides and 1 medium bumpy one (all plastic), and a very tall (9-foot?) spiral plastic slide; also a playhouse/store window underneath
Surface: rubbery/blacktop (& grass)
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: N
Other: sm. picnic tables, bandstand, extra blacktop with painted games, grassy areas
Access: open park

Impressions: Cute little neighborhood park has a decent mix of play equipment, although a little worn, but nothing really for older kids (e.g., no strap swings or monkey bars). Grassy areas add to the appeal, but there's not enough here to draw visitors from any distance.
Overall rating: 6

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Great play and sprayground options: Shepard Rec. Center

Playground: Shepard Rec. Center
Location: 57th at Westminster (just south of Haverford)
Date visited: 12/31/11

Equipment: Three zones in sight of one another:
  1. New-looking sprayground (fenced) with large colorful towers; looks like several sources of spray

  2. Smaller kid playground area includes (a) 2 hobby horses (zebra and dolphin) that actually rocked (!); (b) a new-looking playset: climbing wall, barrel stave climbing, hanging bar, low (5-ft) monkey bars, solid bridge, crawl-through mesh tunnel, three straight metal slides, and misc. climbing; (c) 4 bucket swings.

  3. Higher playset has novel types of challenging climbing (a twisting ladder, another that I can't describe!), 2 high straight metal slides and 1 wavy plastic one, a fire pole, solid bridge, straight (6-foot) monkey bars, and more. Also 4 strap swings here, although 2 broken.
material: modern; scale: large
Ages: 1-12
Surface: rubbery around equipment; cement and grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 1
Water: Y!
Other: pool, baseball field, tennis, basketball, large grassy area, picnic tables (including some covered), large rec. building
Access: not posted (dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Recently renovated and inviting playground offers a great range of options for all ages, from crawlers to more advanced scramblers, faced by houses on one side and a SEPTA bus garage on the other. Sprayground was off-season a our visit, but looks intriguing and made us want to come back. Shaded picnic tables and expanses of grass make this a good option for a longer family outing, and young trees offer promise of increasing shade over the play equipment. Worth a visit!
Overall rating: 9

A nameless little neighborhood play zone

Playground: unnamed
Location: on Cherry just east of 56th
Date visited: 12/31/11

Equipment: Single playset, with 3-6-foot platforms, miscellaneous climbing, a long curved stretch of monkey bars, low straight and tall spiral (plastic) slides. A large wooden planter on one side might offer some "walking along the wall" challenge. A little graffitti, but otherwise in good condition.
Ages: 2-10
Surface: rubbery
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: --
Access: open

Impressions: A little neighborhood playground surrounded by townhouses and fenced back yards. Good basic single playset (decent for a range of ages), but just a short snack -- no grass or swings for broader explorations.
Overall rating: 6

Token at best: John Barry elementary school playground

Playground: John Barry elementary
Location: interior of block bounded by Arch and Race, 59th Street and Redfield
Date visited: 12/31/11

Equipment: Mostly just a blacktop lot, aside from one low basketball net and a small playset including two low slides (1 straight, one bumpy) and one higher (spiral) and a climbing wall.
Ages: 1-6?
Surface: blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: --
Access: appear open (= dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: It's hard to imagine that this little equipment is enough for the elementary school students, let alone enough to draw anybody for a visit. Maybe if you've got an antsy kid right nearby, but we didn't even get out of the car for this one!
Overall rating: 4

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Packed recreation space in a quiet neighborhood: Barry Playground

Playground: Barry Playground
Location: 18th and Bigler (NW corner)
Date visited: 12/24/11

Equipment: Two zones slightly separated:
  • Smaller playset has misc. climbing, straight and curved plastic slides, and a solid bridge. There are also 4 bucket swings in this area.

  • Larger playset has high platforms, 2 straight metal slides (6-ft) and one spiral plastic slide, 2 jointed bridges at different heights, monkey bars, fireman's pole, etc. Also in this zone are 4 strap swings and a large curved (freestanding) rope climbing net (7-8 feet tall). There's also a low stone wall enclosing this area, which looks fun to walk along.
Surface: rubbery/blacktop
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: basketball, tennis, swimming pool, baseball, some grassy areas, extra blacktop areas, rec. center
Access: 6am-10pm (pool = 11-7 days, 1-6 wknd)

Impressions: The bigger kid area here feels new and reasonably creative, well kept and clean. The smaller zone is close enough to make it easy to keep an eye on both at once, so this park is good for families with kids of mixed ages. Extra blacktop for kicking a ball, etc., and lots of good recreation space generally. A quiet neighborhood means it feels peaceful to play here, but the lack of shade could be a killer in midsummer.
Overall rating: 8+

A tiny play outpost in a large civic green: Marconi Plaza NW

Playground: "Marconi Plaza NW" (no offical name)
Location: Oregon & Moyamensing
Date visited: 12/24/11

Equipment: Several pieces in close proximity (enclosed in a low fence):
  1. An old-fashioned geometric dome metal jungle gym, bars spaced widely enough to be only for bigger kids
  2. Swings = 3 strap (outside fence) and 4 bucket (inside)
  3. A small modern playset with hanging bars, a stretch of straight monkey bars, and three plastic slides (2 straight and 1 spiral)
Ages: 1-11
Surface: rubbery around equipment; grass elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: N
Other: park
Access: not posted (= dawn to dusk?)

Impressions: Large formal park with lots of trees, but unfortunately located spanning Broad Street and up against busy Oregon and Moyamensing (especially the corner where this equipment is). Park is probably nice in warmer weather, but this northerly playground (there's another in the SE corner of the park, across Broad) feels a little bleak. Bigger kids would probably enjoy the jungle gym if they don't mind the backdrop of constant traffic.
Overall rating: 6