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Monday, September 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Playgrounds

I caught myself snorting aloud when reading the following piece on StL Today:

Spat at the playground

On one hand, I can sort of see the objections of the Lafayette Square folks--those new playgrounds do look ungodly ugly sometimes, and cheap and plastic and contemporary and.... But then again, the children's librarian in me says, "Hey, wait a minute, kids LIKE colors. Kids LOVE colors." And weren't the Victorians fans of effusive, brilliant colors every bit as gaudy as the ornament on their architecture? Some modern day folks may imagine that time as being polite tan and taupe (Really, a tan slide? Ew.), but that doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of that era.

Where I live, a historic neighborhood on the other [North] side of Downtown, we would kill for a playground like this. Last time I was in Old North's Jackson Park, I softly kicked the tire swing, and the entire playground apparatus swayed dramatically from side to side for the next ten minutes. I'm not talking about millimeters of movement, either--this was a pretty serious, marked, unstable sway. The structure creaked loudly as it moved. Good thing I just kicked it, rather than sitting on it. The next kid who happens by might not be so lucky. My neighbors and I looked over the whole playground, and found that the wood was dangerously rotting throughout. Oh, to fret about historically "appropriate" color choices, rather than to worry that our playground equipment might kill somebody!

And for the record, we do have a nice, new playground in Strodtman Park, but the southern end of our neighborhood could use something nice, or at the least could stand the removal of the dangerous old equipment. And I bet there's no equipment anywhere near as dangerous as that of Jackson Park to be found anywhere in Lafayette Square.

In closing, I'll just say that I hope that the playground in Jackson Park is replaced with non-dangerous playground equipment before the Lafayette Square folks get new equipment, unless that neighborhood pays for it entirely themselves. Otherwise, it seems to me like the whole thing could wait until the current batch of equipment wears out, and then replace it with something "appropriately" puce, khaki, putty, or tan.


Chris said...

Cities are living, changing things. The bright colorful play-equipment represents what children like TODAY. Unless Lafayette Square is now a museum, people should expect things to change over the course of centuries.

Keep the play equipment the way it is.

Anonymous said...

You know what else doesn't fit in Lafayette Square?

Gilded Age's new shit at the corner of Lafayette and Mississippi, with its garish details and gaudy colors.

Or how about the big vacant parking lot behind City Hospital?

Or the Truman Parkway?

Or the strip mall proposed for Lafayette (King George's Olde Shoppes at the Georgian?)?


Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

Interesting thing is, even if one thought that Lafayette Square should be a museum of the past (I don't), uhh.... They sure didn't have tan, plastic slides in 1880.

Anonymous, gotta say I agree.