Sunday, November 12, 2017

Return to Dickinson Square

We're revisiting Dickinson Square Park this week.  Renovated in 2012, the is among the best places for families in southeast Philadelphia - not so much for the play equipment, but for the mature tree canopy, and the large mound of artificial turf surfacing.  It's a comfortable, wide-open space among the narrow streets of Pennsport.  The renovation retains a crescent concrete seat wall and uses it to frame play areas designed for ages 2-5, 5-12, and an array of six to-and-fro slides (two for younger children). 


2-5 play area (appeals most to children 1-4)
  • Kompan Blazer - you may know it from other recent playground installations in the city - a three-person spring rocker that is a real winner for interaction among children.   
  • A house-theme stair and slide, with an attached horizontal rope ladder.  Young children delight in the slide.  The rope climbers are a nice addition, but get very little use - possibly because of the small size of the ladder.  A 90-degree turn from the stair to the slide (with an open fall of 4' at the top) keeps the parents of young children on their toes.

Ages 5-12 play area
  • A compound structure, also by Kompan, that features two spinners, a balance pad, some very modest cord climbers, and an inclined balance bar.  
  • (removed) A pyrimidal, rotating climber (possibly a Dynamo Apollo).  The foundation for this climber failed, and it was removed in summer 2017.  

Ages: All ages, but best for children 1-10.   
Surface: Artificial Turf 
Shade (0-3): 3 - Mature canopy of London Plane Trees - majestic, and extremely comfortable
Water: N 
Other: adjacent basketball court, adjacent tables and chairs, a community center, sculpture that children love to climb on, shaded grassy areas, and lots of space enjoyed by dog walkers, a weekly (small) farmer's market
Access: No barriers, standard park hours

Impressions:  This is one of my favorite parks in Philadelphia.  The equipment is successful enough and provides a good variety of play types and challenges, though the removed 5-12 rotating climber is sorely missed, and older children may find the playground a little dull. The real star here is an open turf mound.  It's enormously popular with families in the summer, creates an interesting area for young children to walk and run, and provides a comfortable spot for parents to sit and supervise the playground.  Lawns at nearby parks are generally dominated by dog walkers, making the mound a unique place to sit and relax in the "grass."  If you're concerned about the toxicity of turf mounds - it's worth learning more.  You won't find crumb rubber among the artificial grass blades, and, despite it's popularity the mound has held up well - with only a slight tear at a seam where turf mats cover the mound.  If anything, the mound is too popular; it attracts older children playing soccer and football, and there's not quite enough space for a simultaneous soccer game and family picnics.  It's a sign of the renovations success and Dickinson Square's wide appeal.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Thursday, November 2, 2017

New face!

We'd like to welcome a new face to this project -- KK, who has a young child and is eager to update some of our reviews where the playgrounds have been renovated, as well as help to fill in the map with visits to some far-flung locations around the city. I hope that means that the map and the blog can continue to be of service to beleagured parents around the region for many more years!

Happy playing!