The History of the Playground: From Grassy Knolls to the Jungle Gym

custom playgroundsAcross the country, toddlers, teenagers, and even adults looking to have a little fun are spending time on playgrounds. From daycare playgrounds to custom playgrounds in the city park, these areas are a lot of fun — but they also have plenty of interesting history associated with them.

The idea of the playground first originated in Germany and was invented as a way for teachers to show children how to play safely. The first children’s playground was built in 1859 in a park in Manchester, England. Since the first playground was introduced, there have been all kinds of various types of play environments, including public playgrounds, commercial playgrounds, non-profit organizational playgrounds (museums and science centers), and for-profit commercial playgrounds with an entrance fee (Discovery Zone).

In the United States, playgrounds didn’t come around until 1888, when it was built in Boston. But President Franklin D. Roosevelt properly introduced these playful areas to the U.S. in 1907, when he said:

“City streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children because of the danger, because most good games are against the law, because they are too hot in summer, and because in crowded sections of the city they are apt to be schools of crime. Neither do small back yards nor ornamental grass plots meet the needs of any but the very small children. Older children who would play vigorous games must have places especially set aside for them; and, since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed over the cities in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children can not afford to pay carfare.”

Even natural playgrounds can be a blast in the right mindset. Natural playgrounds are play environments that blend natural materials, features, and vegetation with creative landforms to create fun ways of natural play. Trees, flowers, boulders, dirt and sand, textured pathways, water features, sculptures, and more can all contribute to fun-filled natural playgrounds.

Whether you’re hoping to improve your school or city park, custom playgrounds can be great for all to enjoy. If you want to learn more about building your own custom playgrounds or find some high-quality daycare playground equipment for sale, give Playgrounds Etc a call right away!

Josh Bartlett

I have been in or around the playground industry most of my life starting at age 6 when my father started building back yard playgrounds. As I got older I developed an enormous passion for construction and business. In 2009 I along with my father and mother decided to give our full attention to designing and building commercial playgrounds. In just over 10 years we have gone from a small mom and pop company to a bustling small business that has the pleasure of designing and building custom play areas in locations around the country.

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