Have you seen Traveling Rings?

“Traveling Rings are a special type of fitness equipment which normally have 8-10 steel rings suspended by chains, each of which is linked to a steel support or beam. One can “travel” from one ring to the next by a combination of arm pulls and leg swings.”

My memory of this type of play equipment is of a set that was suspended over the creek at my summer camp.  But reader Gabe got in touch with much more information: his traveling rings website includes images from a 1905 purveyor of the rings,  as well as selections from a 1900 manual of ‘healthful exercises for girls’ with instructions as to their use.  It highlights one of the things we don’t talk about much in playground history, which is that many early pieces of playground ‘equipment’ were just gymnastic apparatus moved outside!

In more recent cultural history,  Traveling Rings seem to have first been installed on the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, California in the 1960s, and that set may be the only vintage installation remaining in the USA.  Happily, a new set was installed in New York City’s Riverside park in 2005, and another at the Brown Street Park in Providence, Rhode Island in 2010.  I love the performative nature of this piece of equipment, as well as its multigenerational appeal.  Its strong community aspect is clear from Gabe’s website (don’t miss the traveling ring videos!) and traveling rings are definitely due for a renaissance in larger park settings.  If you have seen some Traveling Rings either in the US or abroad (the smaller rings sometimes attached to standard monkey bars don’t count), please add to Gabe’s list by leaving a message in the comments!

 

3 Responses to “Have you seen Traveling Rings?”

  1. Gabe said:

    Thanks for posting this! I encourage everyone to experience the traveling rings for themselves. I extend my support to anybody starting a project to install more traveling rings.

    July 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  2. Paige Johnson said:

    Great find, thanks Sylvan!

    July 10, 2013 at 9:43 am

  3. sylvan steenhuis said:

    Nice, I found one while exploring Copenhagen during the Playpublik street games festival last May. copenhagen does a great job at playscapes anyway, here’s a clip of the Rings on my youtube channel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_drbk9-3x-A

    July 10, 2013 at 8:40 am

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