Tarr Family Playground

The playground at West 100th Street was originally built between 1935 and 1936 as part of the perimeter playground system. In the late 1960s, a group of neighborhood parents secured private funding to renovate the playground, which had fallen into disuse. Their efforts resulted in the construction in 1972 of an adventure-style playground, designed by Ross, Ryan, and Jacquette Architects. By the 2000s, the playground had fallen into disrepair and was perceived as outdated. Many of the adventure play elements no longer existed, having been removed due to deterioration and vandalism. The playground that remained was aging and underused.

In 2009, the playground was reconstructed as the Tarr Family Playground, in the spirit of the 1972 design. Adventure-style play features were redesigned or rebuilt, and new equipment was added, including a large net climber. In an unfortunate twist of fate shortly after the playground reopened, the severe windstorm of August 2009 that devastated the northern end of the Park destroyed many of the trees in the playground and surrounding area, including the two stately oaks associated with the tree house, leaving the structure behind without the natural element that inspired it.

Reconstruction Highlights

• Adventure-style features, including the bridge across the playground, conical climber, water feature, and tree houses, were built or renovated to conform with current safety and accessibility standards.
• New play equipment was added, including climbers and swings (tire, bucket, and ADA-accessible).
• The sand that had served as safety surfacing throughout playground was replaced with an ADA-accessible sand-colored safety surface carpet, and a “lake of sand,” traversed by the footbridge, was concentrated in the center of the playground.
• The seven-foot-high steel picket fence was replaced with a lower steel panel fence, which improved visibility and integration of the playground with the surrounding landscape.
• User-operated water sources were incorporated in the main water spray feature, as well as in the toddler sandbox (providing the opportunity for children to mix water and sand).