Vintage playground climbers

Tom sez, "A wonderful selection of suburban playgrounds and parks circa 1970: robot slides, space cruiser climbing frames and more."

These litigation magnets made me the lad I am today. I miss 'em. Sniff.

Playgrounds From the 70's (Thanks, Tom!)

(Image via George Campbell)


  1. I loved theme playground equipment like this when I was a kid, but the inside always smelled like pee.

    Do kids still play outside?

  2. Oh, man, metal slides! I remember it’d be sunny and 98 degrees outside, literally burning the hell out of my legs going down those things. Good times.

  3. We’ve made it harder and harder for kids to damage themselves in more and more structured play over the last hundred years or so. Much is gained and much is lost. I wonder what the equivelent will look like in another hundred years. Giant amniotic sacs?

  4. The French seem less paralyzed by litigation than many countries, and so in Parisian playgrounds you’ll find genuinely fun equipment, like the hamster-wheels in the article, or 15m-tall climbing towers made of rope.

    Playgrounds are generally fenced-in, and parents sit OUTSIDE the fence in many, allowing the little terrors some independence. Nobody seems to suffer any permanent damage.

  5. Looks like a more sinister cousin of the Wicker Man. Teenagers are probably more likely to set fire to it than Christopher Lee though!

  6. Takashi, you were one lucky kid! That thing is fantastic!

    The small version of the rocket ship (one slide) was installed in a park near my cousin’s house in Beaver Dam, WI. I really loved climbing on that thing way back when.

    The best park we ever went to was Trinity Park in Fort Worth, TX. They had great rope and wood stuff to climb. It’s probably gone now. A good second, which probably still exists, is Baker Park (I think it was Baker) in the northern burbs of Minneapolis. They built a collection of slides into a pretty long hillside. The further up the hill you went, the bigger the steps. Thus, the little kids had a hard time getting to slides that were meant for bigger kids and adults got the best slide in the park all to themselves.

  7. I remember climbing up the outside of those things, which was no small feat (to my young mind at least) as they were designed not to allow that (the hacker ethic starts young). This is probably why they don’t have them anymore, sorry everyone!

  8. Wow, I can vividly recall the taste of blood in my mouth from falling down inside one of those things and smacking my face on the hot metal.

    Good times, man. Good times.

  9. The rocket ships were cool — my local park had one — but the ultimate was the giant rope tower. Unfortunately the two parks with those were clear across town, and I rarely got to go to those. I’ve checked in recent years to see if they were still there, and sadly, they’re not.

  10. !!! There used to be a Giganta at a park near my Grandma’s house. It was the most awesome thing ever… a big thing with TWO SLIDES!! I would always beg to go to what I deemed “Two Slides Park”.

  11. Hmm, I don’t remember more than a few space-themed ones. Mostly I saw simple utilitarian equipment, with only an occasional touch of whimsy or creativity — what a pity.

    My favourite ‘ride’ was a ring set loosely around the top of a pole, with handles on chains hanging down. You’d grab a handle, run a lap, then take off like a plane for the next rotation.

    You let a kid use something like that today and you’d go to jail.

  12. Is it just me or does anyone else think Giganta’s elongated nipples are lactating children?

    I think it’s important that playgrounds, like the original Grimm’s Fairytales, be dangerous places for children. It toughened us up to deal with the eventual harsh brutality that is adulthood. Lessons I learned on the playground? 1) I can’t fly when I jump off the swings. 2) Tongue should not touch metal pole in winter. 3) Girls = Cooties 4) You really don’t want to fall off the balance beam onto the asphalt.

    But, again. This forum offers the opportunity to again, present the greatest contusion and scraping, hot metal on a Summer’s Day place in North America: The St. Louis (where beer is served to Adults and stays open until 1am on weekends)

  13. That robot slide was right near me in the north side of Chicago – we called it Robot Park.

    The slide was taken down years ago and the lame blue/orange swingset of the 90s was put up.

  14. I like the way it distorts space enough to result in what seems to be three seperate horizon lines.

  15. Holy Robot Nipples! There used to be one of these play structures at a camp ground my family frequented as a kid. I used to love ‘racing’ other kids down the arm/nipple slides.

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