Public playgrounds today are a bastion of nauseating safeness. Everything’s bolted to the ground and made of plastic. Slides are never higher than about 5-6 feet. Swings are engineered in a way that they can’t be swung scarily 10 feet into the air (how do they do that?). It’s all just so safe and boring.
When I was growing up, and even before that in the ’60s and ’70s, the playground was not only unsafe, it might possibly kill you. Everything was made of steel held together by sharp metal rivets and slides towered over 20 feet high oftentimes curly cue-ing around 3 or 4 times. It was awesome and it was insane at the same time. It was awe-sane!!
I was looking at pictures on Flickr and I came across a group that had pictures of vintage playground equipment. People had even posted scans of old catalogs featuring enormous metal constructs that were sold to be put on public playgrounds. So, taking pictures from that vintage playground Flickr site, let’s take a look at how playgrounds from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are much more unbelievably bad ass than playgrounds are today.
1. Stuff made from tires - Back in the ’70s, half of the playground consisted of stuff made with discarded tires. All you needed was some wood, metal chains, giant friggin’ nails and a few tires. Chain a tire to a wood frame, you got a tire swing. Nail like 10 tires together and fasten them to another wood frame, you have a climbing wall. Hell, just take a giant tractor tire and bury half of it in the Earth. What could be easier? And safer?
2. Horrifying skinny clown swing sets - Check out these giant, skinny clown swings sets. These towering clown totems were TERRIFYING. They actually look less like swing sets and more like something a demonic clown cult would sacrifice small animals around. Or maybe something Barnum & Bailey would tie you to if you snuck around their tents unsupervised. And what’s that last swing set on the bottom right? A lion? Some circus demon? Horrible.
3. Multi-colored metal carousels - Large metal merry go rounds that spun freely in either direction. More like “puke and go round”. Invariably, multiple kids would jump on it and then start spinning it faster than is totally necessary. Next thing you know, kids are thrown 10 feet into the air, getting dragged along the side in the dirt while holding on and others vomiting up their bologna sandwiches. It’s a wonder more kids didn’t die at the playground. Which made it all the more awesome.