Pinetum Playground

The Pinetum Playground is located on the former site of the Northwest Playground, built in 1936 as part of the construction of the Great Lawn under Robert Moses. The Northwest Playground included standardized play equipment and a large wading pool; nearby, basketball courts, baseball fields and other athletic facilities were built. In 1971, the Arthur Ross Pinetum was created to establish a small collection of conifer trees, many of which had disappeared from other areas of the Park. By this time, the wading pool was no longer functional, but a small area with a few pieces of play equipment was retained within the Pinetum. In 1997, as part of the reconstruction of the Great Lawn, the collection of conifer plantings was diversified and a new play area containing swings, exercise bars, and picnic tables was created. In addition to pine trees, significant rock outcroppings contribute to the character of the site.

The Pinetum is unique among the Park’s playgrounds by virtue of the simplicity of its features and its integration within the landscape. The playground’s open design, in a setting that is unpaved and unfenced, makes playing here an extension of the larger Park experience. As a result, it is a popular spot for family outings. The atypical setting of the swings within the landscape transforms them into more than the usual source of physical exhilaration: They provide a dynamic way to view the Park and experience a sense of expansiveness that is not often achieved in a traditional playground setting—an experience that is enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Improvements to the Pinetum Playground will aim to enhance the qualities that make it one of Central Park’s most unusual and beautiful play spaces, while addressing ADA accessibility. Design goals include providing accessible swings, evaluating alternatives to the existing wood chip safety surfacing in the swing area in response to accessibility and maintenance considerations, and improving circulation to prevent trampling and erosion.