Whenever the weather starts to warm, playgrounds emerge from their wintery hibernation, filling up with the unmistakable sound of rambunctious kids laughing and screaming – as they have for decades, if not centuries. There are swings and slides, merry-go-rounds and monkey bars, offering parents a well-deserved breather, while their kids burn off that pent-up energy.

Of course, upon closer inspection, the playgrounds of today really bear little resemblance to those we remember from yesteryear. They have been made undeniably safer – with their bouncy bark-like substance covering the ground, and their construction materials, which now favor plastic, rather than the metal and wood contraptions we grew up with.

While less broken bones are undeniably a good thing, one can’t help but notice that these newfangled places to play have a little less charm than their predecessors. Luckily, there are few old-school playgrounds still scattering the countryside to remind us of what we sacrificed in the name of safety. These aging stomping grounds serve to remind us of the carefree days of youth and with one glance, it’s hard to keep the memories from flooding back.

Now, if you really want to take a trip down memory lane and see some wonderful imagery of retro playgrounds, our friends over at PlaidStallions have some great pictures to offer. Take note of the metal construction, not to mention the sea of asphalt, which might not have been so forgiving, but offered a perfect arena for hopscotch, jumping rope, and perhaps even a rousing game of Red Light, Green Light.

Surely you have some playground memories from your childhood. Was there a particular park that you begged your parents to drive you to, perhaps one with a huge rocket ship just taunting you to climb aboard and take command? Do you still have an old-school playground in your area that you now take your own kids to? Share those playground memories with all of us in our comments section, as we pay tribute to their former glory days. May they never be forgotten.

3 Responses to “Playgrounds”

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  1. HardyGirl66 says:

    Well, that ain’t necessarily so…The new playground equipment, now used at most parks and schoolyard playgrounds, (which I call Pepsi playpark equipment, since Pepsi funded the renovation of these types of playgrounds in the early 90s), are not (in my opinion) any safer than the stuff we grew up on. At one of the local elementary schools in my area, plenty of kids have fallen off these things and broken their arms (I’ve been witness to this a few times, and once the bone poked clean through the skin!). When I was in school, we had the old swing sets, see saws, sliding board, and emptied sand pit. While I was at that school, no kid that I knew of ever broke their arm on the schoolyard, except this one stupid kid who tried to imitate a superhero by jumping off the top of the kiddie swing pond, and broke his arm. A lot of the metal, cement and wooden play structures of old could have used refurbishing, not replacing. Those things are a piece of history, and now you’d be hard pressed to find them. Some of the parks were even named after some of the structures. Here in Oakland, we have Astro Park, b/c it used to have this great flying saucer play structure. Now, they’ve replaced it w/ a low to the ground moon like asteriod you can climb on. There was also Stagecoach Park that had this cool stage coach to climb on w/ fake horses and a western town by the swings. Now the horses have been preserved in a gated off area, but the town and stage coach are gone. In San Clemente, at Rocket Park, there was this immense rocket slide (higher than that on the video). I don’t know what’s there now, as I’ve moved. When I was back in NYC, I didn’t even wanna go to my old school or to Riverside Drive Park b/c I couldn’t bear to see the changes that were made. The Pepsi Playpark stuff seems more sterile, and has less originality than the structures of old. It just doesn’t seem like fun anymore.

  2. jennifer harris says:

    I loved playing in my school’s playground.

  3. Gina says:

    When I was a kid at West Orlando Christian School, there was this girl that I thought was ugly. But one day on the playground, she helped me master the art of climbing and perching on top of the monkey bars. Suddenly, she seemed beautiful to me.

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