Oh, to be a child again! The NY Times has a story about the city's efforts to develop a new playground concept for lower Manhattan. The city has been working with designer David Rockwell on a playground that would include things like foam blocks, water, cardboard tubes, burlap bags, ramps, climbing nets and even "play workers" to help kids, uh, play.

Developers of the Lower Manhattan project envision groups of children collaborating, for instance, loading containers with sand, hoisting them up with pulleys and then lowering them down to wagons waiting to be wheeled off to another part of the park.

What may sound like a training ground for tiny construction workers actually holds huge developmental benefits, backers say. “You have a level of interaction that you would never have with fixed parts,” Mr. Hart said...

The idea has the support of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Parks officials are devising plans to supply those who already work in other playgrounds with the loose objects, which range from foam blocks and cardboard tubes to spindles and burlap bags, and train them to encourage children to play with them. And in a classic Bloombergian touch, the city hopes that if the idea catches on elsewhere, it could market the playground products.

How does the city have money for this? Well, for one, Rockwell, whose firm has designed places like Nobu restaurants, Mohegan Sun, the Loews E-Walk on 42nd Street, and the Team America: World Police set, is raising $2 million to finance the play workers. And the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Economic Development Corporation had money for downtown redevelopment. The city hopes to bring these kind of playground ideas to all five boroughs.

The article also a brief history about the evolution of the American playground (it's totally fallen behind those Japanese and European playgrounds) and a debate about whether a souped up playground is all that necessary. One thing is sure: When this playground is completed, it will be the playground to see and be seen at.


Find a playground in your neighborhood (and here's a list of wheelchair-accessible playgrounds). And one of the funniest city playground names might the 100% Playground in Brooklyn.

Rendering of the downtown playground by Kinnaresh Mistry and the Rockwell Group. Photograph of little skyscrapers in West Chelsea playground by Joe Schumacher on Flickr; we wish that adults could play on this one, because we'd totally try to be King Kong while climbing the Empire State Building