Photos 23 Sep 2007 07:59 am

Kid Parks Photo Sunday

- Remember those old schoolyard playgrounds we had as kids? Well, maybe not all of us; just the older of us. There was a jungle jim, some swings, and a sandbox. In the summer, there might be a sprinkler of some kind that would spray water on us. It was all concrete and apparently somewhat dangerous. Funny it didn’t feel that way. I can see that plopping a kid in a box of sand might not be the best way to entertain a child.

Well, things have changed. On my daily walk to & from my studio I get to see a couple of children’s playgrounds. (I’d hesitate to call them playgrounds except that the sign below calls it that.) They all seem to be constructed on the theme park model. I’m sure these playgrounds are no different than anywhere else in this country. The attitude toward child rearing has definitely changed.

Madison Square Park has a relatively large and elaborate area.

The idea seems to be to shroud the playground in foliage and an elaborate wrought iron fence. They’re trying to create a positive approach.

This is the entrance to the area. The gateway says it all. Rules aplenty to all these spaces.

Pleasant foliage with lots of well-kept flowers surround the playground. Colorful constructions are inviting to the eye. It’s obviously a pleasant area for these kids to play.

There are a number of turreted spaces connected by a bridge with plenty of crawlspace areas. It’s a safe way for kids to actively move around.

Designed with plenty of places to climb, slide down or run across, these areas are
probably great for fantasies of forts or castles.

Though all of these playgrounds I’ve looked at are similar, this one – in Madison Square Park – seems the most interesting and friendly to me. I’d have enjoyed it as a kid.

Washington Square Park 1

- There are two Playground areas in NYU’s Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. They’re undoubtedly connected, though both are a bit more rustic than the others I’ve photographed.

The front gate to the larger park is intimidating with this enormous iron fence. I thought
the area was locked (at 7am when I photographed it) but learned that it was just tightly closed. A mother with a child in a stroller entered after giving me dirty looks.

The large fence and a very large grass moat surrounds the large space. I certainly felt
like I was an outsider in the movie “Little Children.” I wondered how the kids inside there felt.

The turreted areas look out from behind the shrubery hiding the play area, but the
casual on-looker sees what looks like a more traditional playground.

The space contains more of the turreted areas, with more of the usual picnic benches
and slides.

Washington Square Park 2

This second, tiny playground intrigues me more than the larger one. The surrounding, wrought iron fence, again, is nothing if not intimidating. Again, I felt like I was doing something wrong in taking a photograph of the locked area when a cop car drove by.


There’s one rustic-looking turreted space with a ramp and stairs. The whole affair looks a bit lonely, and I’m not sure what kids are supposed to do here but feel outcast.

Maybe I’m wrong.

I usually only see the space when it’s locked up and no kids are playing.

Two odd, springy seats seem to be a peculiar replacement for swings. They look a bit dangerous. They are the only spots of color in the area.

Downing Street Playground

The third playground I’m going to feature here, is the Downing Street Playground. This
is a small area with its entrance on Carmine Street (about a block from my studio in the
West Village.) The gated and guarded entrance usually has a couple of old people
sitting in front.

The rear of the park is on Downing Street and is backed by a brick wall with some octagonal, concrete windows to peer in.

Within, there’s a colorful turreted play area, with lots of colorful and odd-shaped pipes to climb up or slide down. Not many flowers or foliage is evident. It looks like the
back yard of a building, which it is. I kinda like it in a city way.

What looks like a yellow, circular jungle jim stands behind the turrets. The whole place
looks fairly safe and possibly fun for some imaginative kids. I’m pleased to see that this small, Italian neighborhood has made a real effort to establish an area specifically for kids.

One Response to “Kid Parks Photo Sunday”

  1. on 24 Sep 2007 at 10:56 pm 1.Daniel Thomas MacInnes said …

    You know, it’s funny. I see the sign that says, “no dogs allowed,” and the first thing that jumps to mind is that song from “Snoopy Come Home.”

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