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Urban Playgrounds, GuidElines for accessible playgrounds


Guidelines for Accessible Playgrounds
The Access Board has published guidelines for newly built and altered play areas under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Copies can also be ordered through the Board's publication line at 800-872-2253. Guidance Available on Play Area Guidelines - This material guide covers all parts of the play area requirements, including the number of play components required to be accessible, accessible surfacing in play areas, ramp and transfer system access to elevated structures, and access to soft contained play structures.

NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles on playground design for varying age levels, including resources on safety, accessibility, equipment, surfaces, and maintenance. Pressure treated wood causes cancers.

Posted by Wendy Plotkin <-->

There is an interesting historical context for Rachel Buff's query about studies on the effects of urban playgrounds, as a response to opposition to locating a playground in a Toledo neighborhood. Playgrounds were a key ingredient in U.S. Progressive era reform (and most likely elsewhere), an antidote to the alleged adverse impact of street life on impressionable immigrant youth.

Dominick Cavallo's

(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981) is one of the most concise books on this topic, and there are a number of shorter works and articles on the playground movement in Chicago, which with New York and Boston led the nation in the design and construction of playgrounds.

One of the political leaders of this movement was Toledo's reform mayor, Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones (1897-1904). Jones was a wealthy businessman who adopted a Progressive political platform including increasing the tax burden on the transportation and utility industries, as well as expanding the open space in the city. He himself contributed vacant land near his factory for a playground, which was named "Golden Rule Playground." (See Samuel L. Jones, at

Jones has been the topic of much scholarly study, including:
Title: The life and times of Golden Rule Jones.
Author(s): Ford, Harvey Seabury, 1915-
Year: 1953
Note(s): Bibliography: leaves 742-750./ Dissertation:
Thesis--University of Michigan./

Title: Holy Toledo :
religion and politics in the life of "Golden Rule" Jones /
Author(s): Jones, Marnie.
Publication: Lexington : University Press of Kentucky,
Year: 1998

Title: Civic revival in Ohio: Samuel M. Jones.
Author(s): Bremner, Robert Hamlett, 1917-
Publication: New York,
Year: 1949 1949

Title: Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones and the city-family ideal,
Author(s): Reuling, William J
Publication: Toledo,
Year: 1971
Description: 15, [4] leaves ; 28 cm.
Note(s): Typescript of a paper presented at Urban Seminar,
University of Toledo, June 10, 1971./ Bibliography: p. [4]

Title: Unorthodox "Golden rule" Jones:
crusader and scientific reformer.
Author(s): Kaptur, Marcia Carolyn.
Publication: [Madison] University of Wisconsin,
Year: 1968
Description: 72 leaves. p.
Note(s): Reproduced from typewritten copy./ Submitted to the letters and science honors program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of arts degree with honors, The University of Wisconsin./ Bibliography: p. 71-72.

Title: The life and times of Golden Rule Jones.
Author(s): Ford, Harvey S.
Publication: University Microfilms,
Year: 1972

See Ernest Crosby's 1906 biography GOLDEN RULE JONES: MAYOR OF TOLEDO, at -- especially the chapter "On Politics."

A microfilm edition of Jones' papers, produced by the Ohio Historical Society, exists.

The association of playgrounds with crime in today's society reflects the failure of the Progressives to anticipate that anti-social juvenile behavior could occur in a playground as well as on the streets. On the other hand, it is likely that playgrounds have provided many children with recreational areas superior to the streets.

In the following postings, Fritz Casey-Leininger and Charlie Nilon offer some current literature that carries on the debate about the contribution of playgrounds to the urban neighborhood.

Wendy Plotkin
H-Urban Editor

Posted by Charles H. Nilon <>
There is an extensive body of literature on perception of urban open spaces. Prof. Rachel Kaplan at the University of Michigan has published extensively in this area. Her research may be useful because it focuses on how people perceive features of the built and natural landscape. A focus on perception may be useful in shifting the conversation about the playground from problems to features of the playground that contribute to the problem and that can be addressed through design and management. Dr. Kaplan has written a textbook that covers much of the perception literature in the context of open space planning and design.

R. Kaplan, S. Kaplan, and R. L. Ryan (1998)
With people in mind:
Design and management of everyday nature. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Paul Gobster and Lynne Westphal are researchers with the U.S. Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station. Their book "People and the River" may be useful in understanding how local residents feel about the playground. It also is a very good study of how landscape architects, social scientists, and ecologists study urban open spaces and apply this information to design.

Gobster, P.H. and L.M. Westphal, eds. People and the river: perception and use of Chicago waterways for recreation. USDI National Park Service, River, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The book is also available on line through the US Forest Service North Central Experiment Station's electronic publication web page. This link is a very good web link for people interested in the Chicago River.

Charlie Nilon,
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
University of Missouri-Columbia

From: Andrea Tuttle Kornbluh <>
In the 20th century municipal public recreation commissions frequently organized free public concerts. The roots of this use of public music can be found in WWI's Community Service Organizations which promoted community singing. You can find descriptions of these concerts in the teens, 20s, 30s and 40s in _The Playground_, _Playground and Recreation_, and _Recreation_, the publications of the National Recreation Association, the umbrella group of public recreation commissions.

In Cincinnati, concerts featuring black performers (both local and national) were organized annually in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Paul Robeson and Todd Duncan were among the performers brought to Cincinnati for free public concerts in public venues which included city parks and the baseball stadium. I have described the Cincinnati experience in an essay titled "Municipal Harmony: Cultural pluralism, Public Recreation, and Race Relations" in _Historical Roots of the Urban Crisis: African Americans in the Industrial City, 1900-1950_, edited by Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., and Walter Hill (Garland, 2000).

Andrea Tuttle Kornbluh, PhD.
Department of History
Raymond Walters College
University of Cincinnati

From: Carolyn G. Kolb <>
Patrick S. Gilmore was a nineteenth century brass band leader famous for his giant public concerts and spectacles. He was a predecessor of John Philip Sousa and his biography _Patrick S. Gilmore: The Irish Orpheus_ may not be too exact as to facts but his concerts, especially his post-Civil War Peace extravaganzas, in Boston for one site, were well reported in the press. He is one of my favorites and I hope you like him, too.

Carolyn Kolb
University of New Orleans

[Ed: Marwood Darlington, _Irish Orpheus: the Life of Patrick S. Gilmore, Bandmaster Extraordinary_. Philadelphia, Olivier-Maney-Klein Year: 1950

See also: Michael J. Cummings, "Patrick S. Gilmore, the father of the American concert band." In International musician. [New York, N.Y.] The Federation. v. 68, no. 9, March, 1970. ]