Play History


#TBT Constructive Play, c. 1917

“The value of constructive play as a factor of development is an unworked educational mine”  Edgar James Swift, 1917 In Manual training — Play problems; constructive work for boys and girls based on the play interest, William S. Marten extols the virtues of constructive play (basically building stuff from tops to ‘roller coasters’).  In keeping with Victorian notions of play as an element of social control and reform, constructive play is said to counter ‘destructive play’ tendencies. Our philosophy of play has changed since then, but the illustrations and how-tos in the book for playful items like kaleidoscopes, spinning tops, swings, stilts and slingshots are charming, and Marten’s recommendation of collecting scrap materials for constructive play prefigures the adventure playground as well as the modern idea of the Scrap Store (which I wish I saw on more playgrounds!). See the whole book at the PublicDomainReview, original source the Library of Congress, and – Read the rest…


#TBT Futuristic Garden Show Playgro...

For #TBT, a couple of images from a trippy, futuristic playground installed at a garden show in Vienna Austria in - Read the rest...

Parkour's First Appearance on Telev...

Today’s post is a mashup of ThrowbackThursday and PlaySculptureSaturday, but that’s too long for a hashtag! Thanks to reader Mark - Read the rest...

Vintage Playground Elephant Slide, ...

And adding to our collection of playful pachyderms is this German example; providing unexpected whimsy in front of a severe - Read the rest...

#TBT Vintage Elephant Slides of Tai...

For Throwback Thursday, thanks to reader Mannie Ko for letting me know about this facebook page dedicated to chronicling the vintage - Read the rest...

The Nature of Nature, by Susan Solo...

Paige’s Note: As I’m working to close an investment deal at the moment, I’m reminded of how great it is - Read the rest...

#TBT Jimi Hendrix Playground, c. 19...

Even though it’s properly a sculpture, the Alice in Wonderland statue in NYC’s Central Park is essentially used as a - Read the rest...

-#TBT Timberform Playgrounds, Pruit...

The infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing development in St. Louis installed a forward-thinking playscape of timber forms by Paul Friedberg in - Read the rest...

#TBT Mylar Playground, "Slipcover" ...

Or what about a mylar happening at your playground? “Shades of Jonah! I’ve just been inside one whale of a - Read the rest...

#TBT Playground on the Prairie, Art...

On this #ThrowbackThursday I am absolutely enchanted by the geometry of metal slide and human form in this 1953 photograph - Read the rest...

#TBT Vintage Modernist Playground, ...

From the Germanpostwarmodern tumblr…Eduard Ludwig was a Bauhaus architect best known for his monument to the Berlin Airlift. I couldn’t - Read the rest...

#TBT Vintage Russian Playground Cha...

Also from the former USSR, this 1960 photo entitled “The Orange Sun” by Anatoly Khrupov, of children making chalk drawings - Read the rest...

#TBT Russian Swing, Michael Golosov...

I love the variation of swings between cultures, and I’ve never seen one quite like this wooden-armed version, photographed by - Read the rest...

#TBT Recreating a vintage Polish Pl...

For #TBT I was excited to learn that the midcentury “Indian Playground” constructed for a Polish high-rise housing estate was - Read the rest...

That Seventies Playground, London

Another lovely from English Heritage…this is a 1970s construct in the courtyard of London flats designed by the architects Andrews Sherlock - Read the rest...

#TBT Modernist Playground, 1960, Br...

Many of the post-war modernist housing developments in the UK installed concrete playgrounds to match their similarly sparse exteriors. They - Read the rest...

#TBT Cable Car on the Playground, ...

There *once* was a decommissioned cable car for kids to play on at Golden Gate Park. And I wish there - Read the rest...

Happy Birthday Aldo! Happy Birthda...

A bit belatedly because of my fiendish travel schedule, Happy Birthday to Aldo van Eyck (March 16) who would be - Read the rest...

#TBT "Imagine Playground", Fred Sch...

For belated #TBT (since I am once again traveling) thanks to reader Mike for sending in his gorgeous family photo - Read the rest...

More about Playground Ruins

In continuing to think about ruins on playgrounds I came across this delightful example in Kastryčnicki, Svietlahorsk, Belarus, as photographed by - Read the rest...

#TBT Marilyn Monroe on the Playgrou...

For #TBT my friend Chris sent me this amazing photo of Marilyn Monroe on a playground merry-go-round, reading Ulysses. - Read the rest...

#PlaySculptureSaturday: Midcentury ...

Unattributed, mysterious sculpture at the University of the Phillipines in Diliman. Beautiful photography by Dan Matutina, via flickr in the first - Read the rest...