Book Giveaway! Once Upon a Playground by Brenda Biondo

I was pleased to provide a back cover endorsement  (first time I’ve gotten to do that!)  for Brenda Biondo’s beautiful new book Once Upon a Playground: A Celebration of Classic American Playgrounds, 1920-1975.    It combines her own photography of vintage playgrounds going, going, and gone along with period imagery from postcards and equipment catalogs.  History tells us who we were, and illuminates who we are now.    According to Brenda, many of the playgrounds she photographed just a few years ago are already gone.  So don’t miss the rocket ships, super slides and miracle whirls that live on forever in this book.

Thanks to Tom at UPNE for providing a copy to give away to you, readers!  Just leave a comment about vintage playgrounds (maybe even a memory or the location of one you know and love?)  attached to this post and this time next week I’ll pick one at random to receive the book.

24 Responses to “Book Giveaway! Once Upon a Playground by Brenda Biondo”

  1. Paige Johnson said:

    This is great info, Mike! I’ll highlight it in a separate post. Thanks!

    June 01, 2014 at 11:52 am

  2. Mike Jackson said:

    There are number of vintage playground equipment catalogs available on the Building Technology Heritage Library, a project of the Association for Preservation Technology:

    Burke better built equipment for playgrounds, sports and recreation – Burke Equipment Co
    51 p., illus., 28 cm, trade catalog, Catalog L
    Keywords: Playground equipment; Division 11; recreational equipment

    1953 catalog – Bender Playground Equipment, Inc.
    v. ; ill. ; 28 cm. ; trade catalog
    Keywords: playground equipment — catalogs; Division 11; play structures

    Playground and water apparatus: catalog no. 22 – EverWear Manufacturing Co.
    48 p. ; ill. ; 22 cm; trade catalog
    Keywords: playground equipment — catalogs; Division 11; play field equipment and structures; playground equipment; play structures

    Fun ful: the playground equip line, catalog no. 10 – Hill-Standard Co.
    68 p. ; ill. ; 28 cm. ; trade catalog
    Keywords: playground equipment — catalogs; Division 11; play structures; exterior basketball equipment

    Playground Apparatus : Catalog D7 – Narragansett Machine Company
    Trade catalog, Text, Illus, Photographs, CCA ID:92-B2734, ca. 1922, 36 p, 23 cm
    Keywords: playgrounds; playground equipment; Division 11; Equipment; Play Field Equipment and Structures

    Supplementary catalogue of general school supplies, school furniture, industrial & manual art supplies and other school specialties, may 1st., 1922 – Hoover Brothers
    64 p. ; ill. ; 22 cm. ; trade catalog
    Keywords: classroom equipment and supplies — catalogs; Division 10; Division 11; Division 12; flagpoles; playground equipment; classroom furniture; fixed classroom tables; clocks; waste receptacles

    June 01, 2014 at 11:07 am

  3. Cynthia Gentry said:

    PS – This book is great fun. I love the close ups of the textured and worn equipment. What is it about layered peeling paint and rusted metal that I find so appealing? History I guess.

    May 28, 2014 at 6:35 am

  4. Cynthia Gentry said:

    A year or so ago someone in Atlanta posted a picture on Facebook of a spaceship climber that used to be outside of a local Howard Johnson’s when we were kids. They had just found it standing in the woods somewhere! The picture provoked a HUGE flood of nostalgia from those of us who played on it as children. There were even fond memories of burning our hands on the metal when the paint wore off. How did these kids grow up to be such freaked out parents when they look back fondly on the risks they took.

    May 28, 2014 at 6:33 am

  5. Lori said:

    Congratulations, that book looks like it would be brilliant! And so sad that so many marvelous playgrounds are disappearing.

    May 10, 2014 at 11:25 am

  6. Michelle Mathis said:

    I love that new high design playgrounds are starting to look more like some of the vintage pieces!

    May 09, 2014 at 3:45 pm

  7. christian said:

    Ich hab auf einer Rakete gespielt, Anfang der 80´ger. Wir waren Kosmonauten. Spielplätze waren aus Gasrohren, blau, grün, gelb und rot gestrichen, es gab keine Euro-Norm- trotzdem kann ich mich an keine Verletzungen erinnern. Unter den Kletterrundbögen gruben wir im Sand nach Geld, welches aus den Taschen der kopfüberhängenden Spielkameraden gefallen war. Wenn es dunkel wurde, gingen wir nach Hause. Keiner hatte eine Uhr. Life was easy on vintage Playgrounds

    May 09, 2014 at 1:40 pm

  8. Judy said:

    Vintage playgrounds provide both a historical and cultural context for a community – a true sense of place and time. If they can be preserved, be used and enjoyed and incorporated in this increasingly electonic/indoor world by providing people a vehicle to get outdoors, move around, interact – then amen to them.

    May 09, 2014 at 10:01 am

  9. Scott Peterson said:

    I have quite a bulging digital file at this point of wonderful vintage play features copied from this blog or links from this blog, and have found inspiration and delight in “how it was”. Modern children know right away what to do with the vintage pieces and many of them would not need “to cost a million dollars” to replicate. I would also like to see Yischon’s lunar module – I just designed a play feature with the lunar module as part and have not seen it anywhere before…

    May 09, 2014 at 8:51 am

  10. Jennifer said:

    Vintage playgrounds are an important bridge between my own childhood, and the creation of new play experiences at Chicago Children’s Museum. During the design process, it’s fun to think of children thinking back in a decade or two, to the iconic play experiences of their own childhood.

    May 09, 2014 at 8:45 am

  11. Jane said:

    My old nursery school had a huge cement goldfish slide. I remember vividly its construction; I saw them pour the cement and molded it and used tin cans to create the scales. It was my favorite feature of the school’s playground and i spent numerous hours just sliding through that. Sadly it’s no longer there, as is the man who made. I still remember them.

    May 09, 2014 at 6:24 am

  12. Karole King said:

    Thankyou for the lovely memories of childhood in the 50`s &60`s. It`s no wonder children play with “safe” video games,texting friends,endless hours of computers.They have missed the simple joy in life.

    May 07, 2014 at 12:27 am

  13. Kaitlin O'Shea said:

    This book looks fabulous! My favorite playground apparatus is one that I never got to play on: the giant stride. But I love researching it! Otherwise, the merry-go-round remains at the top of my list.

    May 06, 2014 at 11:57 am

  14. Paige Johnson said:

    I’d love to see a photo of the lunar command jungle gym as sculpture, Yischon!

    May 06, 2014 at 8:57 am

  15. yischon said:

    Our local elementary school just razed their 1970s playground but did move the lunar command module jungle gym to the front to display as a sculpture and not for play. NASA certainly had its influence back in the ’60s and ’70s. What are the contemporary influences on playgrounds nowadays?

    May 06, 2014 at 7:52 am

  16. Rich said:

    The school playground of my youth in Pine Bush, NY has been replaced by modern equipment. The giant slide, whirl, and big metal climbing structures that used to be there are all gone now.

    May 05, 2014 at 2:14 pm

  17. Laura said:

    I fondly remember playgrounds from that era as a kid in Vancouver, BC in the 1970’s. One of my favorite memories is of what seemed like the word’s longest slide at Choklit Park in Vancouver. It is just a sliver of a park on a steep north-facing slope. The only piece of play equipment was this huge metal slide but braving that slide and then making the epic hike back up the hill was enough to entertain us for hours. Sadly the slide is gone now but he park remains.

    Thanks for the blog – i’m a big fan!

    May 05, 2014 at 12:13 pm

  18. Jennifer said:

    I still think often about the playground at Olcott Park in Virginia, Minnesota which was around in the 1970s when I was a kid. The original equipment from the early 20th century was still there then, including 4 or 5 huge rocket slides. I very much wish I had taken photos of them before they were torn down.

    May 05, 2014 at 10:14 am

  19. Cynthia Gentry said:

    Hi Paige,
    Thanks so much for this. I have added your website to the PlayableArtDC website for reference for the artists in the upcoming international design competition. We all know so much more than we did during the last competition, don’t we? I know I sure do. I can’t wait to see this book to find out more about older designs. Thanks again.

    May 04, 2014 at 11:33 am

  20. Dan Gillotte said:

    This looks like an amazing book!
    The playgrounds of my 1970s youth have all been replaced at this point except the boat-themed jungle gym installed at my elementary school when I was in 1st grade in 1971.

    May 03, 2014 at 11:06 pm

  21. Andrew Knight said:

    Looks like a really interesting resource. We too are designing playgrounds throughout the midwest, attempting to capture the spirit of these disappearing vinatage playspaces and objects…a moment in time when designers actually used play + aesthetics as design criteria.

    May 03, 2014 at 8:32 am

  22. Bill said:

    Larsen Park in San Francisco had a series of real Navy jets that generations of kids loved to climb over and fly. The jet let children explore the sky and create scenarios that revolved around good vs. evil. No more jets in Larsen Park today though there is a move to get one (or something similar) back.

    For a few images:

    May 03, 2014 at 7:25 am

  23. Paige Johnson said:

    I’d love to hear more about your park renovation, Maria! Email me: arcady at cox dot net.

    May 02, 2014 at 3:29 pm

  24. Maria Laskowski said:

    We are in the process of the planning stages to renovate a park in our land locked community and we are looking to renovate it with the old type of equipment! This book is perfect.

    May 02, 2014 at 2:53 pm

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