“City streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children because of the danger, because most good games are against the law, because they are too hot in summer, and because in crowded sections of the city they are apt to be schools of crime. Neither do small back yards nor ornamental grass plots meet the needs of any but the very small children. Older children who would play vigorous games must have places especially set aside for them; and, since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed over the cities in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children can not afford to pay carfare.”
President Theodore RooseveltTo Cuno H. Rudolph, Washington Playground Association, February 16, 1907. Presidential Addresses and State Papers VI, 1163.
My family is lucky enough to live in close proximity to a pretty good public playground. It is where we see our neighbors, let our children play together, and talk about things going on in the community. It’s where my daughter gets most of her exercise, and chasing after her provides me with most of mine. We’re incredibly thankful to the city for providing and maintaining playgrounds in neighborhoods like ours.
However, I know not all New Yorkers are so lucky. We often walk past another neighborhood playground in what my wife calls “Asthma Park”. This playground arguably features better equipment than “our” playground and is generally well maintained. However, its borders are made up by the BQE, an onramp to the BQE, and a local truck route. It’s unfortunate that the easiest locations to place playgrounds are on land left over from major highway construction rather than locations that are more appropriate for supporting young New Yorkers.
PlayaroundNYC was created to help New Yorkers see how well their neighborhoods are supported by playgrounds and to see how this support is tempered by nearby conditions. The hope is that with better understanding, New Yorkers will be in a better position to act to both improve the availability and quality of our neighborhood playgrounds.