Big City Plane

Posted
Thu, 04/01/2004 - 3:00am
Last updated
9 months ago
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Slide over those skyscrapers and make room for some swing sets

Not too many kids these days get the old-fashioned upbringing our grandparents did–growing up on farms or in small towns with plenty of fields, creeks, and orchards to play in. We live in the technological age when more and more children are being raised in big cities where even a spot of grass can be hard to come by.

Yet despite the change in lifestyle, children from decade to decade have remained the same–ready to get outside and play! Running, jumping and laughing as long as there’s a sun in the sky, or until mom calls them in–whichever comes first. That’s why playgrounds have become such an integral and important part of city life. Children need a place to play and work off a little energy, and in many cities, playgrounds are one of the only places they can do it.

Yet big-city playgrounds face a few challenges other playgrounds don’t. With numerous children using them, play structures have to be highly durable and ready to withstand years of heavy use. Aesthetics are important, too. In cities made of strong, stern steel and concrete, it’s important to have playgrounds that are colorful and fun—a relaxed, playful atmosphere to break kids away from fast-paced city life. Playground equipment companies such as Playworld, GameTime, Landscape Structures and Universal Play Systems understand these challenges well. They have worked with many big city playgrounds and know what equipment and qualities are needed to make a big city playground a big city success. 

Playworld’s CityScapes is a line of playground equipment designed specifically to meet the needs of big city playgrounds. CityScapes playgrounds are 100 percent steel, making them more durable and ready to withstand the wear and tear of frequent use. And steel helps to make them more vandalism resistant, a feature most city playground managers must keep in mind. 

Even though they are made of steel, CityScapes playgrounds lose none of the bright, colorful appeals you find with plastic. CityScapes come in a wide variety of fun colors, including their new line of PrismCoat colors, a fun way to brighten up your playground with their prismatic reflective characteristic.

But what’s really fun about CityScapes is the way you can customize your playground. CityScapes has 60 non-plastic play activities, dozens of colors and over 70 icons to choose from, which means you can make your CityScapes playground meet your community’s needs. Activity components include crawl tubes, platforms, climbers and slides to name a few, and icons include bright butterflies, airplanes, monkeys and even the Statue of Liberty, all fun ways to brighten up and decorate your custom playground.

Eric Gold with Seattle Parks and Recreation understands the importance of playgrounds for children who live in areas where outdoor play is limited. “It’s well recognized that traditional play areas can greatly contribute to early childhood development,” says Gold. He has also found playgrounds to be a “cost-effective” way to give many children a lot of opportunities to play and learn—even places with fairly limited space. Gold has used CityScapes for several playgrounds in Seattle, including South Park Community Center Play Area and Riverview Playfield Play Area. He worked closely with the community on the playgrounds and took advantage of the custom design option to make playgrounds that met his community’s needs. The results have been pleasing.

“According to my research, [CityScapes] is one of the only play systems that supplies a great amount of color, durability and low maintenance for a comparable price,” says Gold.

For Gold, durability is really what sets CityScapes apart.

“The primary reason for using CityScapes,” says Gold, “is they are an all steel playground, no plastic. …It comes down to the durability. With all steel, we know we’re not going to be back five years from now looking at trying to replace stuff that might be difficult or even impossible to replace.” 

GameTime is another company whose equipment makes city playgrounds safe and solid. Their PowerScape Plus line is the playground of choice for many inner cities, such as the boroughs of New York and Cincinnati. GameTime was also the playground company of choice when Boston Common, America’s oldest park, and a historical landmark, needed a few renovations. GameTime was responsible for the new “Tadpole Playground” installed in the Common. The play area not only blends thematically with the area but also provides a relaxing retreat for children and parents in one of Boston’s most visited landmarks.

Unlike most play equipment, which uses a clamp system to tighten around equipment’s uprights, PowerScape Plus uses a PowerLock system, which bolts directly to the upright. GameTime Marketing Communications Manager Anne-Marie Spencer likes to compare the clamp and PowerLock systems to hanging from a flagpole: “How long can you hang on with your hand clamped around the outside, as compared to having a slot to put your fingers through to help you hold on?” All decks use double-stacked bolts for extra security. And to top it all off, bolts are concealed by sleeves to protect from vandalism or snagging on children’s clothing. With all of the advantages PowerLock direct bolts supply, it might be hard to believe they are easy to install as well. The direct bolts are drilled and inserted by GameTime’s precision equipment and engineers themselves, as compared to many other systems, which have to be drilled on location by the installer. 

GameTime also understands the importance of aesthetics, and PowerScapes are designed to be a fun addition to any park or playground. GameTime offers stainless steel components that are not only durable but fun too. And understanding the troubles most big cities face, GameTime has its own brand of graffiti remover—simply spray it on your playground equipment and graffiti wipes off without damaging the surface beneath, much faster and easier than the old soap and water method.

Big cities will always face some big problems, but play definitely doesn’t have to be one of them. With all the products and features on the market today, there are answers to even the biggest problems. Do a little research and you will find a company that has the products your playground needs. After all, every kid deserves a sunny day full of swing sets and slides, even if they’re surrounded by skyscrapers.

Thinking Today About Tomorrow's Play™ The only magazine that is 100% dedicated to the Playground Industry

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