East 110th Street Playground

The East 110th Street Playground is located inside the northern boundary of the Park, directly across from the Harlem Meer and the Dana Discovery Center. Sweeping views of the Meer connect the playground to the larger park landscape. Families often picnic and play on the lawns surrounding the Meer. A large number of mature trees inside, and around, the playground provide shade and help shield the playground from the nearby street.

Constructed between 1935 and 1936 as part of the original system of perimeter playgrounds, the East 110th Street Playground was reconstructed by the Parks Department in 1979. That project consisted of the installation of TimberForm play equipment (tree houses and climbers containing slides and tire swings) and a water-spray feature. Improvements by the Conservancy in 1996 included the removal and repair of play equipment and the addition of new safety surfacing, site furnishings, and paving. Most people visit the playground because it is close to home, a testament to the strong connection between residents of the surrounding neighborhood and this part of the Park. Many children visit the playground after participating in public programs at the Dana Center. Local school and camp groups are also frequent visitors. These large groups often spill out onto the surrounding lawns. The extensive TimberForm construction that characterizes the playground provides opportunity for exploration and physical play, but does not offer much variety in the play experience. The tree house offers dramatic views through the trees to the Meer and bluffs beyond.

Playground Construction

East 110th Street Playground and its surrounding landscape has been under construction since November 2012. This will be the first playground project built as part of the effort outlined in Plan for Play.

This project is a continuation of the Conservancy’s earlier work to emphasize the landscape and reverse the urbanization of this part of the Park. The existing play environment includes the playground and surrounding landscape, complemented by public programs at the Dana Discovery Center. A primary goal of the project is to accommodate existing play activities and programs in a way that better integrates the playground into the Park, for the benefit of park users enjoying the surrounding landscape as well as those within the playground. Therefore, an important component of this project is the restoration of the surrounding landscape. Site restoration work includes the following:
• Expansion of the shoreline, defining the edge with boulders and plantings, and providing steps to access the water’s edge.
• Reconstruction of paths to create accessible routes and better support use.
• Restoration of lawns to better support use and planting with shrubs, herbaceous plants, and groundcover.

The new playground will be a series of play spaces carved out of this restored landscape. The playground reconstruction includes:
• Construction of a series of interconnected spaces for structured play. These spaces will include a new water feature, a wooden climber, and two types of swings. The spaces will be linked by a wooden walkway.
• Construction of a space for unstructured landscape play adjacent to the playground.
• Defining the entire play space with a discrete but secure fence and adding plantings within and surrounding the space to better integrate it with the Park.