Diana Ross Playground

Tall canopy trees along the slope leading to Summit Rock provide a dramatic backdrop to the playground. The topography and plantings shade and buffer the playground, which is located near a major park entrance and a transverse road. The playground was built between 1935 and 1936 as part of the perimeter playground system. In 1969, the playground equipment was replaced and a new water feature was added according to a design by Richard Dattner.

In 1987, the Conservancy rebuilt this playground with funding related to a concert by Diana Ross on the Great Lawn. It comprises a large wooden climbing structure in its center that features multiple levels of platforms and decks linked to ladders, slides, and tire swings, all set in a sand area. The playground also includes toddler swings and a water-spray feature.

Typically used by children between ages six and twelve, Diana Ross Playground offers many opportunities for challenging physical play on the large wooden climbing structure. The numerous decks of this structure, which provide ample opportunity to pause and linger, are also conducive to quieter social play. The wide asphalt margin that provides circulation through the playground provides space for unstructured play and games, and is well-used especially when the playground is crowded. Located near the Museum of Natural History, the playground is a popular destination for families visiting the museum.

Design Goals and Opportunities

The playground will be reconstructed to provide improved and diversified play opportunities for children of all ages. Its footprint is large enough to accommodate a range of equipment and features. As a result, the playground will better serve its user groups: families who use it in connection with visits to the Museum of Natural History and the Great Lawn. The playground relates reasonably well to its surroundings, integrating nicely with the Park, but the existing relationship can be further improved with enhanced planting to accentuate the impression of lushness and enclosure in greenery to buffer the playground from the noise and activity of the nearby street and busy entrance.