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The dangerous playgrounds of 1900s through vintage photographs

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  • 11 days ago

  • @andersource
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The dangerous playgrounds of 1900s through vintage photographs


@Fezzik 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I got the tail end of this glorious era - even in to the early 90s we had magnificent structures almost this big, with swings that made you feel like you could touch the stars because the chains were so long. The entire class sprinted to the playground every recess period. There was a broken arm every 4-5 years, but I sure felt like it was worth the risk. And still do. The late 90s brought about rapid change and by the time I graduated high-school in 2000 nobody used the “playground” because it was just boring after being ripped apart and replaced with safe alternatives like giant tic-tac-toe boards.

Edit: added a sentence for clarity.

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@steve_adams_86 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I grew up playing in the woods, away from more urban environments, and eventually started a family in a very urban environment. It was very jarring to discover what people tend to think is acceptable for kids to get up to; letting my 4 year old climb a “big kid” slide seemingly caused several people to think I was indirectly attempting infanticide or something.

I climbed very high trees and nearly shit myself trying to get back down. Sometimes I fell out of trees. I built dangerous forts. I started fires and cooked fish on them. I cut sticks with knives and shot at bottles with a small gun or a sling shot.

My kids have no idea what this stuff is like and how sheltered they are. I try to get them out in the world, I take one of them spearfishing and harvesting out in the ocean, we fish a bit, but ultimately they really are quite soft.

I have a feeling we don’t need to send our kids up trees and make them cook fish on a fire to “harden up”, but adversity in various forms and the opportunity to overcome it either with a group or independently seems invaluable to developing kids. I do get the sense (even from my wife) that this attitude isn’t so broadly accepted or comfortable for people.

I even volunteered with a scouting group in hopes my kids might find some good opportunities, but it was extremely mellow. Nice people, some great camp fire talk, but the kids were free to complain their way out of difficult tasks or discomfort and mostly played magic cards or sat lazily through activities we’d put together.

Parents were quick to complain to us if their kids expressed that they had to do anything they disliked. For example, a moderate hike or carrying water buckets for their camp mates.

I’m not sure. Is it such a big deal? Am I myopic and assuming my youth experience had more value than theirs?

Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off if my childhood was a little more demanding, really. I don’t mean this in a masculine context specifically, but I often feel soft. Lack of discipline, unwilling to face discomfort, etc. Perhaps my perspective on the entire matter is limited and/or poor to begin with.

I’ve read quite a bit of childhood psychology around these matters from the likes of Steve Biddulph and D.W. Winnicott but I think I could stand to read quite a bit more.

These kinds of topics always remind me of the sort of cyclical silliness evident in this quote:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

— Socrates

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@dav_Oz 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

There is only one playground I remember which didn't bore me like after half an hour (unfortunately it got dismantled some years ago and doesn't exist anymore) and had the heights, challenges, speeds (steep long slides) exciting for a 6-10 year old version of mine.

But most of the times me and my buddies just climbed, jumped and fell from 'ordinary' structures around our city. We specifically looked out for like interesting bridges, little monuments, fire escapes, rooftops to climb up to etc. Strained ankles, wrists, broken toes, bleeding/scratched up elbows, knees, hands, noses, mild concussions, things you would expect from skating and such. No broken arms or legs, though.

Tbh the most terrifying, horrible things happened in day to day ordinary traffic. I remember vividly from the aforementioned playground, once, one small boy (4-5 years old) playfully but erratically running away from the perimeters out on to a bike lane and getting smashed by a race cyclist (probably riding 20-30mph) before my very eyes. There was screaming (of shocked parents), loud yelling from the cyclist himself and an unconscious child lying there still.

Also second hand stories of trucks hitting cyclists, buses hitting schoolchildren ... the worst things I've heard of from falling, tripping, slipping were broken limbs with the following plaster castings displayed as a badge of honor.

So, the most dangerous things for children out there are adults (with overpowered machines).

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@alephnan 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙



@sasaf5 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

We tried to eliminate grief by decree and now we wonder why everyone is depressed.

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@totetsu 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

99pi did a good episode on this similar topic. https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/play-mountain/

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@28304283409234 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙



@sliken 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Looks great, kids aren't stupid, with more risk kids are more careful. Even infants will back away from a high ledge. Sadly around 1990 kids played at the local park and had a blast, up to 10-12 years old. By 1995 the revisions had made things MUCH safer, and much less fun, to the average age dropped to 6. By 2000 it had dropped to 3.

If it's boring kids will find something else to do.

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@cycomanic 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I think during a discussion here on HN, somebody posted a link to a study (or guidelines?) about safe playgrounds (I don't recall from which country).

IIRC the gist of the article was that playgrounds should always include risk elements because otherwise the children will use the playground against its design to find those risks (e.g. climb up on top of a structure which was designed that you play inside of it). The crucial element though was that risks should be calculatable and there should not be surprising dangerous outcomes.

I have to say looking at the playgrounds available to my kids here in Sweden, I'm pretty jealous of them, we didn't have such cool playgrounds available to us (or they were very rare). It is sometimes terrifying to watch as a parent, but look like great fun.

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@chimprich 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

From the article:

> While some psychologists — and many parents — have worried that a child who suffered a bad fall would develop a fear of heights, studies have shown the opposite pattern: A child who’s hurt in a fall before the age of 9 is less likely as a teenager to have a fear of heights.

This feels like they have the correlation/causation backwards. I suspect people who don't have so much of a built-in fear of heights are more likely to be hurt in falls from height.

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@swader999 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Giant teeter tottter, home built swing that feels like the pirate ship amusement park ride when you're on it and enough wood for them to build and rebuild their own forts. Been great fun.

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@daguava 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Dangerous playgrounds are a fucking AWESOME idea, but they also would breed the NEGLIGENT PLAYGROUND.

I went to an elementary school in Wisconsin where they had a bunch of tires bolted to a huge wooden pole.

After a few years the metal bands and rusted webbing of the tires was sticking out of all the climbing elements. How about we just give all the kids TETANUS FOR FREE? It's on the house.

At the same school I was a big swing proponent - I would ride that goddamn swing every day, no matter how much rust it developed and ---- surprise, the chain rope broke and almost killed my ass.

Edit: My school did pay these glorious medical bills. Shitty playgrounds are good until you almost die.

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@pgt 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Note the total lack of obesity.

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@favflam 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Dangerous playgrounds work when families have 6 kids and kids are somewhat disposable (my heart is not so cold).

The risk calculation is different for families with 1-2 kids.

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@dingosity 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I was recently describing lawn darts to a younger man. He didn't believe they existed.

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@nly 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I don't think it's the era, more the lack of wealth/means. Parents back then couldn't afford to not let their kids be more self sufficient.

My partner is from rural Ireland, and grew up a 30 minute drive from the nearest doctor or A&E. They were fairly poor and only had one car, which her dad had at work during the day. Her mother was a stay at home mum. No mobiles existed, and there was no public transport except a bus every 2 hours with the bus stop a good 30 minute walk away from their house.

There was TV but only a couple of channels. No internet. No library. There was nothing for her to do growing up except roam the countryside and injure herself. Her mum was a busy lady at home (duties of an Irish wife), so she was literally thrown outside in the mornings and told not to come home until dinner.

The stories she can tell about suffering broken or cracked bones and not going to hospital are horrifying to me. I mean I think unless she had been bleeding out they just sat tight. She has scars she doesn't know how she got.

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@WalterBright 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

When I grew up, there was an old steam locomotive as the centerpiece for a park for kids. We were always climbing around on it. There wasn't anything safe about it, everything was made of iron and stuck out at all angles.

The locomotive is still there, but there's a fence around it now.

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@pleb_nz 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Most of them don't look so bad to me. It's just we've gone over the top on safety that today's playgrounds would have bored me as a child.

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@ngcc_hk 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I am not sure I let my children go to a slide that is 2.5 times my height. And danger is danger.

The problem of the playground is too much the same. No challenge. But still danger is still danger.

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@dghughes 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

My playground as a suburban kid was a pond at the end of my street. The subdivision was new and built in a farm field.

The pond was about three feet deep but there were drainage ditches extending out. We'd catch "pollywogs" tadpoles, squish giant black ants, and light fires. We'd also made elastic guns using a board and two nails. This would be mid 1970s.

My school may have had a playground but I don't recall.

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@egberts1 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Lying back on a round-about, twirling at some 2G force, the back of your head hovering inches above the ground: priceless.

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@masswerk 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

It must be said, however, that the general tolerance for child injuries was much higher. I grew up in the 1970s and a child breaking a limb was mostly expected (on the playground, skiing, sport activities). Anecdotally, I got away pretty well with just an ankle splintered by a playground see-saw, while most peers suffered a broken limb at least once. And this, while playgrounds already started to become "boring" – nothing compared to what could be still found in some places. (Personally, I was not allowed to use these.)

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@_spduchamp 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Toronto's Adventure Playground was my favourite dangerous playground from when I was a kid. Epic dangerous fun. https://youtu.be/ejG3RjtEte8

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@jasonkester 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I was surprised to find that these tall rope spiderweb things still existed in a couple parks near us:

https://goo.gl/maps/ZDVDT4qfz3EQtfLR9

They’re often higher than some of the monkey bar things I remember from my childhood in the 70s. Our kids got a genuine feeling of having accomplished something, working up the courage to get to the top and wave for a selfie.

It’s such an incongruous thing to find in a modern sterile British park, with nothing else more than a foot or so off tHe ground, and that having a guardrail just in case.

Sadly, it seems that they’re getting torn out here. Neither of the examples I remember from just 2 years ago still exist.

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@fmakunbound 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

At primary school in Australia we had monkey bars like the ones in the photos. Made of 2” steel tubes, probably galvanized and polished over time by decades of kids greasy palms. You know what that feels like. I think they must behave been about 5 meters high total. When I was there it was just that and the dirt below it. You knew as a kid to be careful - that shit must be hard wired into us.

I had since moved to the US, but I visit every few years. Over time it’s been “made more safe”. The first thing they did was add finely desiccated rubber tube to the ground. I guess a kid who falls, eventually bounces.. must be a nice way to land after breaking all kinds of stuff on the way down. A few years later, they chopped the bars to half height. Whoever is making decisions is doing it reluctantly, I think. Years later the rubber shredding is there, but the bars are reduced again - it’s been modified to a simple set of three swings.

So boring. I think it’s the parents overthinking risk.

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@DoreenMichele 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Something of a shame we haven't put more emphasis on helping kids learn their limits early in a safe way. You don't have to actually choose between just letting them run free and finding their limits by breaking a bone or making the environment all safe and low risk. You can, instead, educate kids about navigating the world.

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@cube00 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

This reminds me of brutalists playgrounds. In the re-creation they couldn't use concrete because it was unsafe by today's standards.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/jun/09...

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@mcbishop 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California is a throwback to wilder playgrounds (and then some). They hand out saws, hammers, nails, and paint to 5-year-olds. Kids can modify / extend play structures however they want. The slides seem nearly vertical. Most kids smash hard in the zipline sand pit. (Guardians have to sign liability waivers at the entrance.) My kid absolutely loves that place.

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@Foobar8568 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

In the 80s, I was in a kindergarten where we had a "bird cage" like structure, maybe 2m-3m tall, not sure if it was fixed to the ground. There were a lot of accidents, I barely remember anything about it, beside maybe being painted in blue, but it was fun and scary at the same time.

I remember also a few accidents, generally it was mainly kids crashing on different school benchs, ending up bleeding....

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@Aeolun 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Aside from the extreme height, there is still plenty of playgrounds like this around (in Japan anyhow).

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@bitwize 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

When I was a kid much if the playground was constructed out of old tires. Car tires, truck tires, tractor tires. There was a fortress made of tires right near the entrance of the playground we called TireTown; it had tire bridges connecting the main fortress to two tire outposts. One of the most common ways to play on TireTown was a tag variant called TireTown Tag, which added the stipulation that you were "it" if you touched the ground or otherwise left the bounds of TireTown (including the bridges and outposts). There was also a tower made of stacked tractor tires, small geodesic tire jungle gyms, and other structures.

There were also the swings and slides and stuff, great big tall BurkeBuilt slides that rose like 20 feet in the air and burned your butt on a hot day.

Of course the personal injury and chemical exposure lawyers prevailed. Google Maps satellite imagery of my elementary school reveals that TireTown, the tire tower, other structures, and original steel swings and slides have all been removed. A nice, safe, colorful plastic foam-padded playground occupies a small corner of the area once occupied by my playground. Such is life.

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@phs318u 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Back then, most parents were way too busy to be helicopter parents. Kids were left to their own devices. I grew up with swings in our backyard that were a death trap. The seats were thick, heavy planks of solid wood connected to the frame by long, heavy chains. I used to swing so high - reaching for the sky - jump off - and then land feeling so good that I forgot the swing was still swinging. How I survived getting clunked by that thing in the back of the head (more than once!) without a serious skull fracture, I will never know.

If I came in injured, my mum would fuss over me to confirm I was ok-ish. If I was, the parental concern would flip and she'd whack me hard and tell me not to do it again. :/

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@irrational 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

The thing that impressed me the most from the pictures was all the girls playing in what today would be considered fancy/church/party outfits.

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@scotty79 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Are there playgrounds for adults? Where you could just climb up, find a cool spot and just sort of hang out?

It's kinda hard being sentenced to just sitting on benches or walking around just because I got too old.

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@socialdemocrat 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

One has to keep in mind that in the early 1900s a lot more kids got seriously injured or died. There were so many more things without any thought about safety.

But the US may take things a bit too far today. In Norway where I live kids still walk and bike to school. Most schools have forests and rugged terrain to play with. The playgrounds are slightly safer than when I was a kid, but you still got to be careful when climbing trees, rock walls etc.

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@smonusbonus 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Just looks like playgrounds in Germany in 2022 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:140703_Kletterger%C3%BCs...

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@iancmceachern 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

We seem to focus too much on preparing the road for the kid rather than preparing the kid for the road

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@CalRobert 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I have never once worried about the safety of a playground, except for when they're not fenced and my 2 year old could wander in to traffic while I'm distracted by my 4 year old....

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@OrangeMonkey 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

When I was growing up, the local burgerking had an amazing playground. It was a three story monster where the way up was by going into a cylindrical tube, fully metal, with a ladder in it. Once you get in, you are going up. Once up, the way to get down was to pray-and-lean to get a firestation style pole to the ground, or you had to jump to reach it.

Kid got killed on it, so the local place took metal and sealed off the entrance. Some kids tried to climb the fire poles up and got hurt, so they had to demolish it.

I keep trying to find photographs of it to show my wife / kiddo, but it seems noone took pics. Or, at least, it was never posted online. I'd like to find out how much of my memory is real, and how much of it was because I was a tiny kid.

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@Stratoscope 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

When I was a kid in Eugene, Oregon in the late 1950s, before I started school we had the Rough Country and the Bomb Shelter.

The Bomb Shelter really was a bomb shelter. We had one of the first houses on the street, and just down the hill was a house under construction. All they had built so far was the basement and the bomb shelter. The kids in the neighborhood made that our clubhouse and brought snacks so we could hang out and keep safe from any nuclear attack.

The Rough Country was just up the hill from our house. They were clearing out some trees to begin construction, so when we needed a break from the Bomb Shelter, we made tunnels under the fallen trees to have another place to hang out.

I had been playing with electricity all this time. When the TV "went on the fritz", as they always did back then, my dad let me pull out all the tubes, put them in a cigar box (I loved that aroma!) and take them to the corner grocery where they had a tube tester. I would test each tube one by one, adjusting the settings for the tube type, until I found the bad one. Dad would buy a new tube, and when we got back home I plugged each tube back in along with the new one. And the TV worked!

In kindergarten I pranked the class. I had a one farad electrolytic capacitor with the terminals on top. That is a big scary capacitor! I charged it up at home all the way to 1.5 volts. Then I brought it to class and demonstrated how dangerous it was. While I was setting up the demo, I accidentally touched both terminals, one with each hand. I started shaking and writhing around like I was being electrocuted!

Somehow I managed to free myself from the electric charge. And then, conveniently, I'd brought along a screwdriver and used it to short out the two terminals, with a most satisfying bang and a spark.

Then I told one of the girls in class, "It's OK. I discharged it. It's safe now. You can touch the terminals and it won't hurt you."

In first grade, that same girl handed me an astronomy book that she thought I might like. I said, "Oh, I read that last year."

It was not one of my finest moments. I wonder what opportunities I may have missed?

Halfway through the year, the school got tired of my troublemaking and moved me to second grade. It was scary being with the big kids.

In third grade, I was still making trouble, so they had me spend the afternoons in a special ed class called Mrs. Spencer's Workshop, where we could invent projects of our own. My first one was drawing maps of all the freeway interchanges on the new I-5 route between Eugene and Portland. We had family in Portland and used to drive up 99 East to get there, and this new "freeway" idea fascinated me. I'd made rough sketches in the car, so I turned them into more polished and colorful maps.

One odd thing was that I could not draw curved lines! I had to construct them with a series of short straight lines drawn with a ruler.

For my next project I wanted to make a printed circuit board. I'd designed a simple circuit I called the Current Changer Switch that I wanted to demo in the Science Fair. You could flip a switch and make a light go bright or dim.

Of course I knew how to hand wire the circuit and had tested it that way, but I'd heard about something new called a "printed circuit board".

I didn't know about phenolic boards with copper on them, but I did understand the basic concept of etching a board with resist to protect the traces. So I got my own idea: I would take a sheet of copper, stick electrical tape on both sides to map out the traces, and dunk it in a tank of nitric acid.

I asked Mrs. Spencer if she could get me the materials: a sheet of copper, some electrical tape, and the tank of nitric acid. And she did!

So I taped out the board and and dunked in the tank of acid while Mrs. Spencer and I watched the copper dissolve.

And my printed circuit worked!

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@sgt101 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I had a very bold toddler to look after for a long time. She used to love climbing about on playgrounds but I would regulate her activity quite strictly. I remember her pestering me to let her go on the big kid's slide which eventually I allowed.

I had failed to realise that because she was wearing a nappy / diaper she would experience a near frictionless decent. I remember watching her shoot off the end of the slide and skip (on her bum) across the rubber and bark chipping off ramp like a flat stone over a pond.

Poor little thing, she was totally shocked a bit sore but not too damaged with scuffed elbows and one thigh and of course a pair of tights written off.

However, the moral is a good one, for quite a while after that she flatly would not go on slides of any sort. Eventually she decided that some slides were fun and ok, and went back on them, and she went back to all slides after about a year. By then she was much more competent and in control. I believe that in a small way it helped her understand and calibrate physical risks, it didn't make her any less bold in the long run, but it did make her more sensible.

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@Markoff 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I don't see there anything really dangerous, sure those bars in first two photos could be lower, but if you can't handle the height you will be anyway probably too afraid to climb there.

After all most of the work injuries during fall happen from height ~1.5m when your body don't have enough time to rotate and you will just hit your head, so bigger height can be actually beneficial for safety.

Here in Czechia closest playground to my house has rubberized ground and bars (dinosaur backbone) for climbing on them at roughly 3m height, don't think it would really make much difference if they were 1-1.5m higher, if someone falls down from that height on head it can be pretty dangerous already from current height. In the end my kids are climbing on trees in park nearby in bigger height than in playground.

I grew up as kid in 80/90s mostly just with metal constructions playgrounds and my most serious childhood injury was when I took down matress down from bed and had great idea to jump from matress to wooden surface to break my skull, so much for dangerous playgrounds.

Btw. there is still fairly dangerous (longest) slide in Parukarka park in Prague I ocassionally try, it's pretty long and fast and you just need to stay there short time to see kid flying off, if it's cleaned from rubber left from shoes, happened to me, happened to FIL visiting, seems kids with lower weight don't go that fast usually as adults. So you can still find fun rides even nowadays.

https://www.idnes.cz/praha/zpravy/v-parku-na-parukarce-se-de...

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@StanislavPetrov 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

In the early 1980s my elementary school here in New York had a "rope wall" in the gymnasium, similar to what you'd see on an army obstacle course. It was suspended from the ~30' ceiling of the gym and the top (the metal pole the rope wall was suspended from) was about ~20 feet off of the hardwood gym floor - easily high enough to kill or seriously injure anyone who fell. Nonetheless we regularly scaled this rope wall and went over the top and back down the other side without any sort of harness or safety gear of any kind. Adult supervision was also minimal with one gym teacher watching ~25 kids running around the gym tackling different (though mostly less dangerous) obstacles.

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@Tade0 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

It's possible to create structures which are tall and risky, but at the same time prevent major injuries. Here's an example from Warsaw, Poland:

https://www.kompaniazabaw.pl/f/g/kepapotocka_4.jpg

Note the triangular shape. Kids either get their limbs stuck in the ropes while falling or roll down, eventually hitting the sand.

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@susiecambria 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Reminds me of the Elvira Kurt bit on playgrounds then and now: https://youtu.be/uZNU2CKjKsk

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@gwbas1c 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

There's a playground about a 15-20 minute walk from my house with a "stealth" fireman's pole. The pole appears to be a support for a 3-story-tall slide, but the top is just close enough that adventuresome kids can jump 3-4 feet from a ladder to the pole.

The first time I saw some rather rambunctious kids do the jump, I was impressed with the designers for hiding such a fun feature.

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@jamal-kumar 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I remember we had an ancient playground at our school when I was a kid last century and this girl fell thru the jungle gym and caught all her front top teeth on a bar on thing while falling down thru the middle, sticking some straight out and taking the rest clean out of her face. Good times!

By the time we reached middle school, ours was an old elementary school converted into one for slightly older kids too big for a wooden/metal playground. We had this big climbing arch thing but since it was a newly organized school and a crazy neighborhood we just got on top of the thing and coordinated swinging ourselves on each side of it back and forth until the whole thing came crashing down in a pile of splinters.

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@JetAlone 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Looking at these:

-I feel like I'm small again.

-I feel A sense of fear at the sight of the height.

-I feel like the other children climbing are going to look down at me not climbing, and laugh.

-I feel myself snapping back to my present adulthood reality.

-I feel shame that I grew up in a safety culture sheltered from challenges that could have developed the bravery needed to climb these things as a kid.

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@taylorius 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I went to a primary school in rural Dorset, UK in the 1970s. Our playground equipment consisted of old tractor tyres, and large logs (cylindrical, "processed" logs). Someone would get in a tractor tyre, and the other kids would roll them down the playground, until they crashed into the wire fence at the bottom. :D We'd assemble the tyres and logs into "bases". It was such good fun, in lessons I remember counting the minutes until playtime, so we could get back to the "real business" of base building.

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@cassepipe 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

The kid in me is wanting those very hard

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@erispoe 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Playgrounds still look like this all over Berlin.

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@adorton 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

My elementary school playground had several giant tires. Not sure what that was all about but we found ways to make them fun.

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@fnordpiglet 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Every one of those kids are dead. All the kids at my daughters playground are alive. Obviously playing in a modern playground is better.

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@pessimizer 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

The limitation of this to the early 1900s was probably just a result of the particular collection of photos the blog found that inspired the post. The most dangerous thing (and the thing I was looking for) in this post is the second-to-last photo, the maypole, and there were two of those in my grammar school playground, mounted in bare concrete. Every recess or lunch period, at least one kid ended up bleeding.

If you're not familiar with playground maypoles, they're like the English morris dancing-type maypoles with the ribbons sprouting out of the top of the pole. But instead of ribbons, there are chains with handles on the end, and instead of wrapping around the pole, the chains rotate within the base, allowing the children to spin around the pole itself. Every kid is attached to the same spinning element, so all of their energy is summed as they run around the pole, so eventually one or more kids are airborne, holding a chain with one or both hands, spinning around a pole at merry-go-round speeds, over concrete.

The intense nerfing (and limiting of access) of the world for US kids is very recent. This playground of 1912 looks almost identical to my playground of 1982.

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@sparrc 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

> Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground”, said Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway. “I think monkey bars and tall slides are great.

I agree but as far as I can tell everyone agrees with this. Every playground near me has monkey bars and tall slides. They're safer than these photos but you could certainly still get hurt on them.

Are there places banning monkey bars and slides?

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@bane 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

Playground age for me was the early 80s which included the following spaces:

- The neighborhood playground was made out of cast concrete in a few pieces that sat on top of concrete. It looked very similar to this [1][2] but had several other concrete pipes that were quite a bit taller. Minor injuries were pretty daily.

- My elementary school playground which was made out of old telephone poles formed into various climbing equipment. Even casual scrambles ended with numerous splinters and tar stains. A couple of the pieces were easily over 10 ft tall. They sat on wood chips or gravel. There was a broken arm or other hospital ready event a couple times a year.

- Another school I went to while transferring during a move had equipment in the middle of the woods with no particular safety padding. Kids regularly jumped from equipment to trees, or fell of the large slides. It was cool looking, I remember at least 2 broken arms while I was there for half a school year.

- A local public park had a 2 story corkscrew slide that kids fell off of, and a 3 story rocket ship structure with a zipline over grass that had numerous other places to fall and get hurt. I believe they eventually tore it all down after some ICU-level injuries befell a few kids. A lot of the equipment here looks very familiar to this particular park [3]

- Another local public park built a massive climbing structure with most of it 2-3 stories off the ground with numerous slides, poles, swings, and other bits. It was all wood and a guaranteed splinter. There was also a cool tunnel full of graffiti that was also most kids' first introduction to used condoms and drug paraphernalia.

This was on top of the usual assortment of local parks with hand pushed merry-go-round death traps and other odds and ends.

It's a miracle so many of us survived childhood as all the playthings were literally trying to kill us. On the flip side, we're all monkeys and today's playgrounds often don't have much for kids to really do. The old structures on the other hand challenged us kids to overcome our fears and getting to the top of some of them felt like a major life accomplishment and often forced us to build temporary alliances to help each other up, in, down, or across complex and scary feeling play spaces. They taught both real and imagined limits and how to discover the former while defeating the later.

I don't know what the educational and emotional benefit of modern playsets are supposed to support.

1 - https://youtu.be/hmLV3ThGzKk

2 - https://modernistplay.tumblr.com/post/162016983146/pg7-saddl...

3 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War_playground_equipment

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@4wsn 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I haven't had a close look at contemporary playgrounds but they certainly don't look anything like this.

I'm kind of torn on this.

On the one hand, I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment without much supervision; just about the only fear drilled into me by dad was "don't screw around with electricity". Other than that, we got up to a lot of trouble and the sensation of visceral fear from a massive miscalculation of physics was something I got accustomed to, amongst other forms of childhood terror of my own making. From my perspective, it's hard to argue in favor of a sheltered, over-safe childhood compared to a childhood where boys will be boys.

But on the other hand, minor scrapes aside, a close childhood friend died in an ATV accident that was completely avoidable if we had any sort of safety standards, and I did crack my skull open once and had to be rushed to the ER.

I wonder what the right balance between the two would look like.

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@dusted 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

As a person who grew up before everything got all woke, I can attest to playgrounds of yore being dangerous, and thus, exciting and interesting places.

I have no fear of heights, but a healthy respect has been instilled in me from various attempts by my younger self to reenact various action scenes from the glorious testosterone fueled action movies we had access to without parental supervision as small kids, it was absolutely wonderful.

Being a parent today and seeing the dull shit my own son will have access to, I don't feel the least safer.. Sure, he might not fall down and hurt himself THERE.. but he also won't learn it there.. where there at least is soft sand below, and where he could have learned many of the dangers of the physical world in a scaled-down and at least somewhat controlled manner.

Remember those spinning things, "roundabouts" or whatever they are called.. Every child who survived one of the more energetic bouts on those things, they know something about centrifugal force and how after a certain threshold, keeping yourself in the center is the only way to avoid bruises.. It gives some general ideas about the mechanics of the world and your body, and your strength.. It improves your ability to move about in the physical world in a safe way.

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@tintor 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

This is very similar to modern day Santa Monica beach playgrounds. https://www.santamonica.com/original-muscle-beach-santa-moni...

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@alx__ 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I honestly don't think it's the playground design, it's the parents.

There's a school near me with a nice large area great for skating around. Most of the equipment is the newer style plastic hunks with soft edges and a rubber mat surface on the ground.

Have seen kids there find all sorts of ways to nearly injury themselves. They're having fun like I used to as a kid. And we had the murder bars and fling-yourself-gorounds. Newer designs might only help prevent scraped knees and pinched fingers.

Now the kids with their helicopter parents look annoyed and miserable. The kid tries to run and gets yelled at to slow down. They get to excited and told to calm down. Parents will wait at the bottom of slides and catch kids before they have even reached the end.

You'll have nosy neighbors calling cops on kids because they're walking down street without parents.

We've created a fear bubble around kids and they don't know what danger is. Let them make mistakes! Let them explore their spacial surroundings and fall down!

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@classichasclass 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I had no idea they had Action Park at the turn of the 20th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_Park

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@goodpoint 10 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

> If it seems like today’s kids have gotten “softer” compared to the kids decades ago

The idea that people can be divided in "tough" and "soft" and that facing risks makes you "tough" would make any decent psychologist cringe.

No, humans are a tad more complex that that.

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@JKCalhoun 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

When I was young, I tried to climb a geodescic dome-type structure on the playground. But I tried to climb it inverted — along the inside of the dome.

I about made it — but dropped onto my back and had the wind knocked out of me. First time I had ever experienced that scary sensation.

Times.

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@Ambix 7 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

I've had the playground very similar to those shown on the first photos in USSR school back 30 years ago. It's hard to imagine what dangerous plays we had there.

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@numlock86 11 days

Replying to @andersource 🎙

The comments on the article itself (not HN) are pretty biased and humorous.

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