THE TRAGIC DEATH OF THE COOLEST PLAYGROUND EVER
I'm in mourning.
A few years ago, I was at Golden Gate Park visiting the Mary B. Connolly
Children's Playground with my kids, and came across this wonderful place.
Here's an article I wrote it about it at the time.
MOST DANGEROUS COOLEST PLAYGROUND EVER MADE!
GOLDEN GATE PARK
FEATURES A RETRO STYLE PLAYGROUND
THAT SKIMPS ON SAFETY BUT HEAPS ON THE FUN!
Old playgrounds have been a
passion of mine for quite sometimes. With 2 kids of my own, I'm
frustrated at the safe blue plastic, perfectly rounded barely elevated
antiseptic diversions just sitting there in a sea of sterilized tanbark
that pass for play structures these days. Playgrounds used to be fun
because there was an element of danger to them that added to the
pleasure. Once parents started suing because their kids were stupid, it
took all the magic from these once adventuresome playgrounds.
I wrote about the
"deadly" playgrounds of yesteryear some time ago, but was thrilled
when visiting Golden Gate Park in San Francisco this week to find a
playground that recalls a time when playgrounds were all about about fun.
The first thing that made my
jaw drop was this wonderful twin concrete slide! Yep, it's 60 feet of
solid concrete. Kids (and adults!) can grab a piece of torn cardboard
then jet down to the bottom at a pretty decent speed. Even my fat ass
wasn't too big to enjoy this awesome slide.
And if old school slides are
more your style, check out these babies, which are ready to scorch many a
young ass with their 300 degree blazing hot surface!
One thing that sticks out
about this playground is that there's nice clean sand everywhere. Most
playgrounds these days have nasty tanbark or cheap, splinter-inducing
shreds of wood that really suck. The sand complements this fun equipment
nicely. I'm not sure what its official name is but I've called it, "The
Death Ramp of Terror!" Watching kids just run up and vault themselves
into oblivion is a thing of beauty. Broken legs be damned! Word has it,
Evel Knievel got his star on a play structure just like this.
This log rolling thing is
awesome, too! Sure, a stronger kid is just going to send the weaker one
spinning down, only to get smashed beneath the sand and an 800 pound hunk
of wood, but that's all a part of growing up, isn't it?
Next we have the exciting
"Modular Medal Space Pod Climby Thing". I found a crazy homeless man
inside of it that has been stuck there when he first climbed in as a kid
back in 1972. I lost track of my kids about 3 times when they were
playing in this, but that may have also had something do with the fact
that I was passed out drunk on the bench.
Look how wonderfully rusty
and corroded this thing is, too! Now the vending machine full of tetanus
shot hypos at the park's exit makes sense!
Of course, no old school
playground is complete without the requisite high speed Merry Go Round.
Who can forget those glorious days of youth spent hanging to an outside
bar with one arm as your feet flailed in mid-air while your body spun in
circles at 60 MPH? Of course, the trick if you started getting sick was
to move to center like these kids, so it would minimize the G-forces. I'm
not sure why that works, exactly, but it has something to do with science.
And finally, we have these
great swings, straight from the set of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome!
You can fit about 8 people on these if they hang on the outside, and as
you can see from the animated version on the side, you can swing them up
pretty damn high!
So if you're ever in San
Francisco, check this "Children's Playground" in Golden Gate Park, right
off Bowling Green Drive. They also have a great carousel that was built
in 1912 that only costs 50 cents to ride, and as luck would have it, the
rest of the park is FREE!
So we went back there today, eagerly
awaiting more retro playground goodness.
My kids ran in at a full sprint after we got to the parking lot.
But then they slowed down.
The entire place was...
Oh shit...this can't be good
You can see the concrete slide to the
right, too hard to destroy...I'm sure they'll find a way to fuck with it
and make it unusable, too.
Adios, coolest playground in the world!
There's not too many more like you.
I have a friend who works for the state and part of their job is improving
playground safety. They mentioned that when new playgrounds go up, there
hardly even putting SWINGS in anymore, because of the choking, falling,
This next generation is going to be the biggest bunch of pussies in the
I'm going to find one of those old Merry Go Rounds on eBay and put in my
Someone has to keep the dream alive...
In the meantime, I suppose the optimist has
to make me hope that the fine folks will put something extra fun and great
in its place. But you know it's gonna be some super smooth super
safe impossible to skin you knee on Wuss-Factory that may reduce lawsuits,
but will just increase the hole in our hearts.