Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fishtown Rec Center: A blast of color

Playground: Fishtown Rec Center
Location: Palmer St. and Flora St. (just north of Girard on Palmer); another entrance is on Montgomery and Flora (again, just north of Girard on Montgomery).
Date visited: 5/29/11

  • Smaller playset with lots of climbing, 1 wide plastic curved and 1 straight metal slide
  • Taller playset with climbing, monkey bars, fireman's pole, and a straight metal slide
  • 6 strap swings (1 broken) and 2 bucket swings
  • 3 hobby horse critters (too stiff to rock much, as most seem to be)
  • 2 sit 'n' spin platforms with poles (1 semi-broken/wobbly)
  • central "hill" with brick sides, some raised bricks to make a slanted climbing wall
  • circle with stone tower water units (not on when visited on a Sunday morning in May)
Ages: 1-10
Surface: rubberized by most play areas, blacktop elsewhere
Shade(0-3): 0
Water: Yes (small area with stone tower sprayers)
Other: roller-hockey rink, rec center with large covered area, basketball courts, picnic tables, lib outdoor concert area (maybe?) with tables and benches, library across Montgomery St.
Access: Probably dawn to dusk

Impressions: Clearly a well-loved playground: every inch of equipment, benches, and poles is painted with colors and patterns that make you happy just being there. Had the sense that this was a semi-recent effort to beautify a space that was beginning to run down (e.g., a note indicates that Agnes Irwin School out on the Main Line was part of a recent painting effort; some paint was peeling and graffiti already creeping back in). The central climbing structure is neat and offers the only shaded zone on the site; the rest seems fun but might be prohibitively hot on most summer days. Would love to see a roller-hockey game!
Overall rating: 7+


  1. Since 2005, Art Sphere Incorporated "Changing Lives Through Art" has been regularly engaging groups to beautify and cleanup Fishtown Recreation Center to inspire children and adults. We are teaching printmaking on clay art workshops there today with FRC summer school program and love hearing about your blog -and appreciation for the "blast of color". There was a time (in 2005) when equipment was all broken, trash and glass filled park and graffiti covered building and surrounding walls. Thats where we came in and folks said it would never work. No other mural project has been such a long ongoing mural collaboration and evolution with local kids and adults as well as volunteers from Japan Australia and Finland.... contact me at if you want to get involved we have cleaned/painted many parks in Philadelphia with community. Founded in 1998, Art Sphere Incorporated is a Philadelphia-based non-profit, established to teach art to inner-city low-income youth. Our mission is to engage the creative in communities, explore the positives in peoples' lives and heal the mind, body and spirit through art .... to connect with others and to be creative now!

  2. JOIN US!

    MLK Day of Service; Jan 16, 2012; 10am-1pm JOIN Art Sphere Inc at Fishtown Rec Center 1201 Montgomery Avenue!

    Park clean up, graffiti covering, and mural painting. Projects help keep the community inspired by art and protect the site from graffiti and vandalism. We also make cards for seniors who are limited indoors. We provide the required art and craft materials: brushes, tarps, and basic paint colors. Art Sphere has both outdoor and indoor space, so we can work in all weather! Wear old/warm clothes and bring any special dietary requirements. Pizza provided! Ages 10+ welcomed!