Jun 30

162. Junod Playground

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I believe that Junod Playground is the most northeasterly playground in all of Philadelphia.  And what a playground it is!  There’s a beautiful stainless steel giraffe sculpture greeting you as you come into the playground, plus an arch inscribed with the name of the playground.  There’s a mix of standard playground equipment, plus the weird stuff that’s hard to draw.  There’s a cool sprayground that was not yet running on a hot Sunday morning around 11am.  One of the workers told us to come back in an hour since it was on a timer that started at noon.  He didn’t like it, either.
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Philly Playground Project review (visited: 3/14/13)

Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

161. Fitzpatrick Playground

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Fitzpatrick Playground was a fine little rec center playground surrounded by tall chain link fence to keep you from wandering out into busy Academy Road.  There’s a somewhat rare three-person see saw here which was cool because Susanna came along on this trip, too, so we all had a seat.  Just on the other side of the basketball court is a floor hockey rink which seems to be pretty standard at playgrounds in Northeast Philly.  An old sprayground arch is in the center of this playground but, sadly, it seems to now be defunct.

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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

160. Palmer Playground

57 tbdThe sign may be tagged, but otherwise this is a beautiful playground, set back from busy Comly Road and includes a great running field.  There’s a cool sculpture of a dancing family as you come in and two tunnels under the walkway ramp that you can crawl in or hide from your friends in.  There’s also a seal and a turtle that may or may not be a sprayground.  Zora tried to teach me–or re-teach me as I had played long ago–four square, but without a ball, it was a difficult task.
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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

159. Chalfont Playground

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We visited Chalfont Playground as part of Super Playground Day on Father’s Day.  Usually, we go out and visit 3-4 playgrounds, spending at least a half hour at each.  But on Super Playground Day, we visited 8 different playgrounds in the Northeast.  I think Chalfont was about #4 on the day.  And by the time we reached Chalfont, I realized that the playgrounds in the Northeast, compared to the rest of the City, are really really well maintained.  There were no worn holes in the rubberized mat.  There were few broken swings or missing basketball rims.  And the equipment all looked pretty new.  Chalfont was no exception.  They even had incorporated boulders into the play equipment to climb on.  And the sprayground provided a welcome cooling off.
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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

158. Picariello Playground

54 picarielloYou would think that I would get more questions about what I’m doing when I show up at a playground with a clipboard and a pen and try to do a quick sketch of the place while I’m racing Zora around the playground and trying out all the climbers.  But you’d be wrong.  In fact, on the Father’s Day Sunday that we visited Picariello Playground, I was asked what I was doing for only the second time that I could remember.  And when I told the guy who asked me, I don’t think he believed me.  But meanwhile, Zora was loving Picariello.  It helped that on this hot day, the sprayground was active and crowded and loud.  There are two neat stand-alone rock climbing walls that look like they were pealed off of a Frank Gehry building.  Plus, as I recall, this was the playground that Zora learned about dangling from rings.
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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

157. Mitchell Playground

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We visited Mitchell Playground before the swimming pool was filled and were the only ones there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  That was a surprise.  Because Mitchell Playground is a lovely little oasis with lots of trees and not one, not two, but three tic-tac-toe games.  Too bad we didn’t visit here six months ago when Zora was a big fan of tic-tac-toe.  Now she’s all about monkey bars which, surprisingly, Mitchell is missing.  There’s a sprayground in the middle of the playground area.  On the day we were there, it was sadly dry.  Too bad, too, because it was really hot.  But maybe they turn on the spraygrounds when they fill up the pools?

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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

156. Boyle Playground

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Boyle playground has one of the coolest integrated rope cone climbers around.  Other playgrounds have them, too, of course, but I really enjoyed how you can climb on the rope bridge over to the rest of the playground equipment pretty seamlessly.  And Zora was a fan, too.  This playground also has a batting cage and a mini-race track painted onto the ground on the other side of the building.  I forgot to get a picture of it, but it would make a perfect race for kids on scooters or even remote controlled cars.  On the Sunday afternoon we were there, the sprayground was surprisingly not running.  Not sure what happened there.  Otherwise, the playground was clean and colorful and awesome.

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Visited: June 2015

Jun 30

155. Gifford Playground

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This neighborhood playground sits right off of Bustleton Avenue, behind Loesche Elementary School. There’s a huge hill leading from the playground building down to the playground.  I suspect that it’s a crazy crowded sledding hill come winter.  But on the warm summer Sunday afternoon that we visited, we weren’t thankful for the hill as much as we were for the shady trees which kept the playground equipment cool. And Zora, despite having spent much of the day hand-over-handing on the monkey bars until her palms blistered, couldn’t say no to a fine looking set of monkey bars here.

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Visited: June 2015

Jun 01

154. Towey Recreation Center

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On the warm May afternoon that we visited Towey Rec Center, two men were engaged in a heated game of handball.  We stopped to watch them and, noticing us, they kindly stopped swearing.  I appreciated that.  Towey was really beautiful.  Lots of nice shade trees and the mid-century modern architecture of the rec center building with its intricate glass mosaic is quite striking.  Zora goes through phases where she loves certain parts of playgrounds.  Most recently, she’s been really into tic-tac-toe games.  But now, she really loves the monkey bars.  She swung expertly and repeatedly along the bars at Towey.  Afterwards, she was puzzled to see blisters has formed on her palms.

Facebook page

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Visited: May 2015

Jun 01

153. Moffet Elementary School

Moffet Elementary School looks like it has an awesome playground.  Unfortunately, it was locked when we went to visit it on a warm Sunday afternoon in May.  There are lots of things that our beleaguered, underfunded Philly schools need.  But one thing we ought now to let go off is that our schools should serve our communities and be welcoming to families in the evenings and in the weekends.  I have no idea if Moffet has any particular issues that require it to lock up its school yard on the weekends.  But we should work towards making all of our schools more community focused.  And one way to do that is to let kids play on playgrounds even when school isn’t in session.

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Visited: May 2015

Jun 01

152. Norris Square

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I’m embarrassed to say that, although I’ve lived in Philly for over a decade, this was my first time visiting Norris Square.  I had heard so much about it, but never had a reason to seek it out.  And that’s one of my favorite parts of this playground project: getting to visit so many different neighborhoods in the City.  Norris Square reminded me a lot of some of the neighborhood parks I used to visit in the Mission when I lived in San Francisco years ago.  Groups of Spanish-speaking elders sit around on the many, many benches under beautiful old shade trees.  The playground is comfortable, although the slider bar is missing as is one of the swings.  Small mosaics pepper the park.  I hope it’s not another 12 years before I make it back again.

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Visited: May 2015

Mar 30

151. Heitzman Rec Center

41 heitzmanZora, Jai, and I spent about an hour playing tag on this neighborhood playground, overlooked by what appears to be an abandoned factory for the Sterling Paper Company.  While we played, a freight train, which had been idling on the tracks that run next to the playground, came to life and moved out, while kids and adults on the basketball court and the baseball field continued playing.  Like a lot of neighborhood playgrounds, there’s nothing particularly unique about this spot, except perhaps the old stand-alone sliding board.  But also like a lot of neighborhood playgrounds, I’m sure a lot of neighbors spend time here on the playgrounds, fields, and swimming pool, especially on days when it’s not quite so gloomy as the day we visited.

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Facebook page

Visited: March 2015

Mar 28

150. Samuel Rec Center

42 samuelThis slice of playground has two play structures and a large red and blue padded play area.  On the day we visited, it was grey and a little bit cold.  It seems like it would be a much nicer place to be once the leaves are on the trees.  Instead, I’ll remember this playground mostly because there is a large cemetery across the street, not because of the equipment itself.  For a little nostalgia, check out out the 1962 photo of the swing sets at the playground posted below.

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Samuel Rec Center from 1962:

samuel1962Facebook page

Philly Parks & Rec page

Visited: March 2015


Mar 28

149. Monkiewicz Playground

43 monkThis is a great site and it’s got a lot going on: a pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, a baseball field, a rec building, and two playgrounds: one for bigger kids and one for smaller ones.  It’s also in a most unfortunate location, dropped down between I-95 to the east and busy Richmond Street to the west.  Plus, it’s across the street from a Wawa and Sunoco (neither of which, by the way, have public bathrooms.)  But for such a bad location, it does well for itself.  We kicked the soccer ball around for awhile and climbed on the retro rainbow triplets.  It’s hard to escape the noise and motion of I-95, but if you have to be this close to it, you might as well be playing on a playground.

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Philly Parks & Rec Site

Visited: March 2015

Mar 28

148. Stokley Rec Center

44 stokelyOne of the cool things about documenting our visits to playgrounds over several years is that I get to look back at photos of Zora and remember how she interacted with playgrounds when she was 3 or 4 compared to how she interacts with them today when she’s 6.  I remember, for instance, when she was too scared to climb up the retro climbing rainbows they have at Stokley Rec Center.  But when we visited Stokley, she mounted them carefully, but determinedly.  It didn’t hurt that her friend Jai was there to encourage her.  Stokley is a solid rec center, but nothing particularly absorbing.  I couldn’t help but think how things would really be much more pleasant if they planted some trees around the playground.

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June 2014 article on the playground (with video!)

Visited: March 2015

Mar 28

147. Cohocksink (Cohox) Rec Center

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A lot of pavement surrounds the playground, but beyond the playground are large playing fields and a swimming pool.  We visited this playground on a cloudy Sunday afternoon with Zora’s friend, Jai.  The play structures captured some of their attention, but mostly we played soccer, using the large red wall in the first picture below as the goal.  It’s squarely in the middle of a neighborhood of two-story rows.  The ground surfaces have been beaten up pretty badly and are desperately in need of repair.
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Philly Parks & Rec page


Visited: March 2015

Feb 09

146. Hagert Playground

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On an otherwise gray February afternoon, the colors of Hagert Playground lit up the entire block. A lovingly painted sign and a red yarn heart tied to the fence welcomes kids to the park. The playground equipment could use a good scrubbing, but the splashes of color outweigh the mean-spirited graffiti. On the afternoon we were there, a 13-year-old kid with a stopwatch was coaching several younger boys through an obstacle course that he had set up for them on, around, and through the playground. All in all, a great and welcome neighborhood playground.





Visited: February 2015

Feb 09

145. Pop’s Playground

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One corner of Pop’s Playground is an awesome and beautiful and very busy skate park which, based on what I read on the internet, has been open since July 2009.  But, sadly, the rest of Pop’s Playground needs some love. No playground looks its best on a gray February afternoon, but Pop’s is sadly marred by encyclopedic graffiti, broken and missing swings, and torn up mats and concrete.  On the plus side, there are two play structures and a basketball court and a small sprayground.  But here’s what I have to say about Pop’s Playground: Zora left her soccer ball there.  And when we realized that we had left it there and came back 20 minutes later, it was still there.  Plus, Zora got a kick out of driving on the wavy cobblestones of Trenton Avenue.


Visited: February 2015

Feb 09

144. Cione Playground

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The Cione Playground fits into a wedge of roads just south of Lehigh Avenue.  The playground seems like a bit of an afterthought, really.  The real draws are the basketball courts, floor hockey rink, soccer field, baseball field, and swimming pool.  But the playground’s spacious, at least, and on the day that Zora and I visited, she really wanted to play soccer so we had a lot of fun kicking the ball around and against the building.  It skipped around a lot on the broken concrete, though, but at least the fences prevented it from skiddering out into traffic.



Visited: February 2015

Feb 09

143. Webb Street Play Lot

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This small corner lot across the street and behind a Wawa doesn’t seem like it would attract many people looking for solace or peace.  But it’s for kids, though, and it does provide a fenced-in concrete patch to run around in.  Plus, it’s on a lovely little block of rowhouses, and who wouldn’t want a sliding board right outside your house?



Visited: February 2015