Monday, April 2, 2018

37th & Mount Vernon Street Playground

Nestled in West Philadelphia's Mantua Neighborhood is a clever little park that fits a ton of play on a small sunny hillside.  It's worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood.  The 37th and Mount Vernon Street Playground (a park begging for a new with more character) includes a new basketball court, and two age-specified play areas.  It's a small space on a relatively steep slope for Philadelphia - challenging terrain for play areas and ball courts that want to be "flat."

Mt. Vernon does it with grace.   


2-5 play area
  • Kompan Blazer (two seats) - this rocker gets a lot of play.  The two seater doesn't come with the center platform of the three-seat option, which inspires a lot of balance challenges, but a nice (and narrow) addition where space is limited.
  • A compound structure, possibly from Kompan's Galaxy series (corrections welcome in the comments!), with an activity panel, hammock, low rope climbers, and monkey bars.  It's a great little piece that appears to really stretch the designated 2-5 range.  The low ropes are ideal for very young children learning to pull up and walk, and the monkey bars could challenge older children with some creative climbing.   

5-12 play area
  • Kompan Supernova - a low profile, but plenty popular spinning ring that encourages older children to play and challenge together.  While the park was empty during our visit, I have seen the Supernova at other playgrounds (Herron Park), and it often gets a touch, if sometimes brief - even from older kids.
  • Kompan Galaxy - I'd love to come back on a warm summer day and see this piece in action.  It has a dramatically high chair, and lots of bells and whistles packed into a narrow use area.  Having never seen it in use, it's tough to comment.

Ages:  2-12
Surface: Poured Rubber
Shade:  Mt. Vernon benefits from a massive Ailanthus and other canopy trees to the south, though new trees are limited
Water:  None
Other: Plenty of seating, two picnic tables, and full court basketball 

Impressions:   It's impressive how much play is fit into Mt. Vernon Park, and wonderful how much of it is done without fences within the park.  The park runs 225 feet, and drops roughly 9 feet in that length.  Most of that grade change is made up with a small planted slope in the middle of the park, which is artfully retained by stepping concrete seat walls.  I only wish they ran the full perimeter of the court to take pressure off of a steep slope, which looks like a difficult place to establish plants - especially with all the fun children could have playing on the hillside.  The park appears to be very well lit, has plenty of seating and trash cans, and a generously sized rain garden that takes water from 37th street (and keeping it out of the city's overloaded sewer system) .  It's hard to imagine fitting more in such a tight space.  Mt. Vernon is part of the Trust for Public Land's Parks for People program - if your not familiar with it, check it out - a non-profit program that renovates parks where they are most needed.  This is a park that can truly anchor a neighborhood by creating comfortable, active spaces for all ages, and a great credit to the Parks for People mission.  

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