Photographs by Malcolm Pickney for the Parks Department

Yesterday, Parks Department officials, school children and many others helped break ground on the Imagination Playground at Burling Slip in the South Street Seaport area. The new space "is the product of over five years of David Rockwell’s extensive research on play and playgrounds. It is a progressive concept in children’s play that offers a rich environment of diverse materials that encourage unstructured, child-directed free play, where children determine their own activities, alone and with their peers." In other words, there's no massive Tom Otterness sliding statue.


The playground has three key components: an open multi-level space with large sand and water features; a huge array of loose parts (toys and tools); and Play Associates (trained staff on site who maintain and manage). And while in the photo it looks like just a bunch of foam blocks, the Rockwell Group’s pro-bono design even captures the essence of the Seaport, with climbing rope, a lookout ramp with telescopes and a crow's nest. Here's a nice rendering from when the project was announced two years ago.