Toll Family Playground

Project Progress

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Complete November 2016
    Current

Reconstruction of the Toll Family Playground included the addition of updated and improved play features, increased accessibility, and new site furnishings. These improvements enhance the play experience while maintaining the open feel of the playground.

Located just inside Central Park West near the Mariners’ Gate entrance, the Toll Family Playground is geared toward pre-school-aged children. The original playground in this location was built in 1936, under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, as part of the system of playgrounds constructed inside the Park’s perimeter.

The original playground featured equipment and activities typical of the era — swings, slides, kinder (sand) tables, water spray features, and play houses. A late 1990s renovation by the Conservancy replaced the original equipment with post-and-platform play structures, a sand box, spring toys and rockers, and new toddler swings.

We maintained the existing footprint and open feel of the playground, while providing updated and enhanced versions of the Moses-era equipment and activities. We have restored the landscape surrounding the playground and added an ADA-accessible route.

Improvements to the Toll Family Playground included:

  • Reconstruction of the entrance path from West 85th Street to moderate the existing steep slope and make the path ADA-accessible.
  • Removal of the seven-foot steel picket fence. In its place wood-and-concrete benches and pipe rail define the edge, as they originally did in the Moses-era playground.
  • Installation of a lightweight mesh fence screened by landscape plantings, to ensure that the play environment is contained.
  • Creation of organized play experiences for 2- to 5-year-olds within the central zone of the playground, with enhanced water play on the north end, new active play components (climbers, swings, tunnels, slides, spinners, and spring toys) in the middle, and manipulative/sand play on the south end
  • Increased toddler swings at the south end of the playground, including an accessible swing and installation of backless benches in front of the swings.
  • Addition of imaginative/social play features within the circulation zone around the perimeter of the playground, including play houses and sound tubes.

This project is part of the Conservancy’s effort to guide the continued stewardship of Central Park’s 21 playgrounds, as outlined in Plan for Play: A Framework for Rebuilding and Managing Central Park’s Playgrounds.

Left to right: Playground c. 1930s (NYC Parks Photo Archive); before reconstruction; after reconstruction
  • Our Process

    Restoring Central Park is a collaborative effort. Our team of historians, planners, landscape architects, and architects work in partnership with the public to preserve the Park’s original ideals while enhancing the experience for today’s visitors.

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