Thursday, August 30, 2012

Park Chelsea and Park Hell's Kitchen Playground Reviews

Just ran into Parkhopper Sarah Poppins Manhattan Playground Review website.  Sarah is a nanny who is on a quest to review all 207 Manhattan playgrounds.

In  Park Hell's Kitchen She has so far reviewed:

Hells Kitchen Playground

Ramond Aponte Playground

Matthew Palmer Playground

Mc Cafferty Playground

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Senior Seating and Naturally Occuring Senior Centers

Originally Published:March 28, 2011

Recently I noticed a neighbor of mine whom I had never seen using a cane before was using one. When I asked her why she said sometimes she gets tired and needs a rest and there is no place to sit so she leans on the cane

Here we have an access-a- ride bus stop for the disabled and handicapped with no provision made for seating for a disabled or a handicapped person

Beyond simply a place to sit down for everyone our lack of seating is actually creating a dangerous situation. Our senior citizens must wait on our street corners to be picked up by access a ride. I had a personal experience of my mother having just had open heart surgery waiting for an access a ride pick up standing on a street corner for over an hour.
Unite Here has a medical facility on 7th Ave between 25th and 26th streets. After examinations I found people waiting for a pickup of access a ride. They too were waiting up to an hour or more and had no place to sit while waiting. 

Seating at All Access-a-Ride Pickup Locations
Seating in front of all  Doctors Offices and Medical centers

My friend John needed a walker to sit on after a knee operation. Today several years later he no longer needs the walker but he still uses it. He does this because he learned that if he positions himself on 8th Ave friends would stop by and talk with him. He needed to created his own street seating to do so because there is none near where John lives.

PlaNYC 2030 talks about having a park within 10 minutes walking distance of every citizen in New York City.
For some seniors and disabled a 10 minute walk to a Centralized park. is 10 minutes too much..Park Chelsea is meant to place park facilities for people within a minute or two walk of everyone in Chelsea.
My friend Adelle was in her 90s and had trouble getting around. She was a gardener in the Penn South intergenerational garden that just happen to be located around the corner from where she lived. Given her luck in it being around the corner she was able to travel to it on a regular basis. If it was even five blocks away I don't think this would have been possible. The beauty of the Park Chelsea concept is that Park Chelsea will offer gardening opportunities for our senior citizens not 10 blocks away, not five blocks away but on the block where they live.

Last year, East Harlem became the city's first "aging improvement district." Sixty stores, identified with window signs, agreed to put out folding chairs to let older customers rest as they do their errands. link
I know of an older woman who has a tremendous amount of trouble walking , She lives on the fifth floor of a walk-up so she can not use a walker. To be able to go outdoors and get around she would use a nearby building ledge and a nearby bench in her neighborhood to sit on. The bench was taken away, the building ledge is currently covered by scaffolding. She is. now effectively stuck in her house far more than she would like to be. For the able-bodied people in our community nearby outdoor seating locations may be considered optional, for others such as this woman they are a necessity.
I noticed the woman in the picture below having a tough time walking. I asked her if seating on every block would be helpful. Her answer was a very strong affirmative.

Cities and suburbs were designed for younger people, full of stairs and cars, he explained. As they become increasingly difficult to navigate, older people gradually retreat. 
 - Aging expert Andrew Scharlach of the University of California, Berkeley link

The senior citizen in this photo has a seat, but what about her helper?
I talked to a good number of seniors in Chelsea and asked if seating on every block would be something they desired. Except for one woman who said no everyone else answered yes. Some had the opinion though that it would never occur.

". And as an inveterate walker, she is especially enamored of the benches recently installed on her block where she can stop and chat with friends. ." -NYT Aug 12, 2011

 Naturally Occurring Senior Centers
My mom (3rd from left) lives in Flushing. Recently the bus service that stopped around the corner from her was discontinued due to MTA budget problems.Due to this she can no longer easily get to her local senior center. For my mom and these other residents of her building the bench area around the corner of her apartment has become a "Naturally Occurring Senior Center"(NOSC). Park Chelsea plans to create NOSC's through Chelsea.

In talking to users of this NOSC I learned what they would really like is a table and movable seating so that the NOSC can go beyond being just an an area for schmoozing and also be used for playing card games.

Below are two photos from another Naturally Occurring Senior Center this one on 97th St in the Lotus community garden.  Here are two senior citizens who are playing a game of Scrabble.

 Given a simple addition, a table and chairs this NOSC has transformed from an area where the seating arrangement would only allow talking and reading to where the seating arrangement will allow for games and other group activities.

Rather then just seats, Park Chelsea recommends the creation of NOSC's, so that beyond a place to sit, seniors have places to interact.

East Harlem became the city’s first “aging improvement district.” Sixty businesses set up chairs on the sidewalk for seniors to rest in, a Senior Health Fair was celebrated and the local pool offered “senior swim” hours.
Aging Improvement Districts
 Priority Seating
All seating will have  signs on them saying priority is to be given to senior citizens/disabled/moms. Benches can also be purchased that have a arm rest in the middle for those blocks that are worried about people taking up residence on their bench. (Alternatively benches can be set to fold up at night.)

Oasis Signposts/Kisoks
Think of seating and restrooms as located at Oasis's, We need to let our neighbors know how to find these. On every block in Park Chelsea we need signage that will let people know where the nearest seating is, where the nearest publicly available restroom is. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Park Chelsea's Walking Trails

Creating Park Chelsea's Walking Trails

Park Chelsea is in the process of creating   park walking trails.  Each trails will be designed to incorporate the outdoor space opportunities that have been created by the   NYC Parks Department's  parks and playgrounds, , NYC Department of City Planning's  Privately Owned Public Spaces(POPS) and NYC Department of Transportation's Public Plaza programs. . By doing so we will be integrating  Chelsea's  stand alone public outdoor spaces into a seating and recreation network for Park Chelsea's park walking trails.

Creating Age Friendly Park Walking Trails

   You can walk further distances the more places that you have to sit along the way,” Block said. “That’s why we think benches are wonderful in communities...”- Dorian Block, of the New York Academy of Medicine    link

Taking our cue from Dr. Block all of Park Chelsea's Walking Trails have been designed with places to sit on the trail.

In the The NY Academy of Medicine Report Towards an Age Friendly NYC  , it was said- “...The lack of benches along public walkways was also mentioned frequently. One focus group participant said, “There used to be a place where we could just rest and sit together.” Another reported, “We need more benches people can grab onto as they walk down the street. You can see people gripping the storefronts for stability.” Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the constituent feedback form indicated that benches for resting are “very important” to the well-being of older New Yorkers..

 To reach the goal of making our park walking trails Age Friendly,  in addition to existing seating areas on the walking trails, Park Chelsea will be requesting benches to be scattered throughout  our trails through the NYC Department of Transportation's Citybench program.

 Good signage increases walking

Many people avoid walking if it requires them to navigate through an unfamiliar
The sense of the unknown - how long will it take, where a street leads to -
creates ‘risk’, especially of getting lost or increased journey times. Legible London 

I talked to a staff member at the Fulton Senior Center on 16th street,  who said that a lot of people don't like to go below 23rd Street-Ranger Bob 

   Making Our Walks Interesting

"Several decades ago, when William H. (Holly) Whyte was doing his "street life" research and observing people walking in cities, he concluded that people will walk many blocks if the walk is interesting. Walk Appeal getting people to walk through the neighborhood


To this end we're going to try to work with local design schools  to create interesting walking trails, where graphics exhibits  will change on a regular basis.

  Walking for Health

Regular activity, like walking, is hard to beat when it
comes to keeping yourself healthy. It lowers the risk
of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis
and osteoporosis, helps keep weight in check and
boosts your mood.

There is much evidence of the benefits of walking. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh recently revealed that overweight people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost weight even if they didn't change any other lifestyle habits.

Another American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average nine pounds less) than couch potatoes as they got older. Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Walking can even prevent colds and more

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school found that people who walked every day had 25 percent fewer colds than those who were sedentary.

Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help prevent the bone disease osteoporosis.
"Bones are like muscles in the way that they get stronger and denser the more demands you place on them," Knight says. "The pull of a muscle against a bone, together with the force of gravity when you walk, will stress the bone -- which responds by stimulating tissue growth and renewal." 

Best of all, walking makes you feel good about yourself. "For people suffering from depression, walking three to four times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to enhance their mood," says Knight.



Big Apple Senior Strollers

Walk NYC
s a seasonal, age-friendly, program that encourages New Yorkers of all ages to get fit while enjoying the outdoors. Reach your goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and meet other people who are also looking for the same fitness benefits.


See also Park Chelsea News walking Trails

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Park Chelsea-Chelsea's Outdoor Space Retailer

NYC Public Outdoor Spaces and outdoor seating  are mostly  created under the auspices of 3 city Departments:

NYC Parks Department's  parks and playgrounds,
 NYC Department of City Planning's  Privately Owned Public Spaces(POPS)
NYC Department of Transportation's Public Plaza and Citybench programs.

These agencies act as "manufacturers" of spaces. As manufacturers their function is to "tout" their lines of open spaces, not those of the other manufacturers. (hey would you expect Samsung to tout Sony  products?)

NYC park Dept map lists their Parks only

Dept Of City Planning Privately map listing their Privately Owned Public Spaces only

there is no NYC DOT Plaza's or Benches map however a list of Plazas can be found  here

The park Chelsea map is a "Retailers" map , it lists open spaces and seating  from all "manufacturers"

In mapping these spaces Park Chelsea acts as the  "retailer (like Best Buys or PC Richards) of these open spaces.

Park Chelsea is also a "systems integrator" and  views seating in parks, pops and plazas  as the seating " components"  of our newest product , park walking trails.

NYC Parks Dept Introduces Playgrounds for Adults

Adult playgrounds fight obesity

Mom, Dad, This Playground’s for You

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

GROWN-UPS New York City installed an adult playground at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.

...New York City is testing its first such playground in Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, and plans to bring as many as two dozen more to neighborhoods across the five boroughs in the next 18 months, park officials said.
The goal is to lure people off their couches and into the outdoors with specially designed playground equipment — in grown-up shades like forest green and beige — that recall the joy of childhood play while tightening up flabby abs, thighs and triceps.
Though there are no swings or slides — these are essentially outdoor gyms — such playgrounds not only have the look of traditional children’s play spaces, but they are also built in some cases by the same manufacturers.
The adult playground concept is borrowed from China and parts of Europe, where outdoor fitness areas for adults have become as routine as high-fiber diets or vitamin D supplements in preventive care, particularly for older people. 


Se also Park Chelsea's post on:  Playgrounds for Seniors

The future of city sidewalks and streets

 "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -Alan Kay

"Streets make up approximately 25% of the City's land area and yet, outside of parks there are few places to sit, rest, socialize, and to enjoy public life." NYC DOT

"... for the last 50 years, city streets have been managed less for the benefit of neighborhoods they serve and more for the traffic passing through them. . . Although most of its residents travel by foot, transit or bicycle New York City streets prioritize drivers" -- Blueprint for the Upper West Side

Driverless Cars

In the not too distant future there will be major changes in how our streets are used:

                                                         Google Driverless car demo

-Currently people tend to own and drive cars. In the not too distant future cars will be driving themselves

 According to predictions released by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, autonomous cars will account for up to 75 percent of vehicles on the road by the year 2040 link

Driverless cars will be much safer and significantly reduce accidents...
 "In the US, where the state of Nevada is the first to have licensed autonomous cars, analyst Celent is predicting that driverless cars could contribute to reducing motor premiums by up to 80% within 10 years, Lloyds reports." link

   Peak Oil: We're Running out of Cheap Oil


-In the not too distant future we will be running out of  cheap oil  even Shell Oil is admitting this. .  The reason for expensive oil is  because  oil production through the world is declining as demand is still increasing.   Because of this   some  people  will  stop driving, others will abandon older gas vehicles and switch to ones that run on  natural gas and electric. The replacement cars will be....

Much Smaller Cars
-Right now people purchase cars that seat 4-5 people whether they need a car that large or not.  

In the future we can expect that a significant percentage of  large  private cars will be replaced by much smaler  2 passenger cars. We also see these cars being driverless. Rather then owing a car people will simply request a driverless car in a similar fashion to calling a car service.

                                                   The Hiriko, three of these cars will fit in one parking spot!

Currently our streets our taken up by cars parked on them. When the day comes when most people no longer own cars, the parking spaces on our streets will be freed up to. At these trends start to play out, the future will become the past and major parts of our streets will once again be freed for use by neighborhood residents

Early 1900's NYC when Parking day was everyday

Our sidewalks used to be our playgrounds, at some point in the coming driverless car revolution, our sidewalks will once again become our playgrounds

Giving the children the freedom to play safely on their own doorstep, the women agreed, would be good for all of them. Both claim that laziness as well as conscientious objection inform their reluctance to spend hours ferrying children to and from organised activities. "The idea of being able to open the front door and out they go with no hassle is so appealing," says Alice.

Reclaiming our streets for kids

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Walking Trails

The Park Chelsea map currently lists all Chelsea's open space opportunities. One addition is to add walkng trails to the map. here's some city's with walking trails embedded into the community.


Milford, Franklin map out walking routes

... if you live in Milford or Franklin, you no longer have an excuse not to get out and walk.
Through a collaboration between the two towns, the nonprofit WalkBoston organization, and the Hockomock Area YMCA, each community now has its own downtown walking map outlined with numerous routes, time markers, and various points of interest....

“It’s really looking at how we can change behavior,” said Lauren Marciszyn, director of youth and community wellness at the Hockomock Area YMCA, which became involved through its ongoing Healthy Futures initiative, aimed at tackling childhood obesity. “It’s improving the health of the community by making the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Milford’s map, which is available on the town website and at several municipal offices and businesses, features 10 loops with a half-dozen highlighted points of interest, including Louisa Lake, the 1884 Memorial Hall, and the Irish Round Tower, a 74-foot memorial in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Different routes pass by the high school and the Milford Regional Medical Center, and incorporate the Upper Charles River Trail....

 link for more on map

The map, once printed, will be available at town buildings and local businesses, and online, she said.
Routes on both maps range from a half-mile to 2 to 3 miles, and are broken into increments that can be completed in five minutes, according to Joe Cutrufo, program coordinator for WalkBoston....

“Really the idea is to just get families walking,” said Ellen Freedman, who is involved with the initiative, and serves as project coordinator for the Greater Milford Health Access Coalition. “It generally promotes walking in the community.”...
And as well as teaching about landmarks and distinctive historical points, the maps can also help to illustrate that some walking trips aren’t as long or as ominous as people might think.
“I hope that people will find new routes for walking that they didn’t know existed,” Dahlstrom said.
Sidewalk stamps for “Little Engine that Could” walk.
Tamir Kalifa for The Boston Globe
Sidewalk stamps for “Little Engine that Could” walk.

“Ultimately,” said Marciszyn, “it’s about how we can get the community to look at where they live as a place to be active, and to utilize walking as a mode of transportation.”

full article 

WalkBoston & Milford
WalkBoston makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and vibrant communities. Our education and advocacy programs give voice to citizens to make their communities more walkable. A non-profit organization, WalkBoston has worked in over 65 communities across the Commonwealth. Our maps are created in conjunction with local organizations and people with expert knowledge of the area. To learn more or support us, visit
This Milford walking map was developed and printed with funding from the Metrowest Health Foundation. It was produced through partnership between WalkBoston and Healthy Futures Milford, a community-wide collaboration to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
walk boston link

Newport Beach, CA Walking Trail Maps

1Pier to Pier1.74 (One Way)This is a beach front walk along a paved path designated for pedestrians and bicycles. There are great views of the ocean the entire length of the walk. Depending on the time of the year it can get very crowded.Map
2Balboa Island Loop1.70This walk takes you around Balboa Island on a paved path designated for pedestrians. This walk provides great views of the harbor. Parking on the island is limited to the street and can be difficult at times to find. A better option may be to park in the Balboa Pier lot and take the ferry over.Map

Pier to Pier map

Monday, August 6, 2012

sidewalk outdoor exercise equipment

Active recreation parks in the New York City are centralized parks, located in specifically delineated areas apart from other activities. Here is a photo from Daug, China showing  active recreation equipment that is embedded into a sidewalk.

Here's a photo of people walking down a street, below is an enlargement of the upper right hand portion of the photo....
...note the girl in red she is playing on some of the equipment embedded in the sidewalk of this street


more photos

Adding active recreation equipment to NYC sidewalks may be a new idea, but the idea of adding equipment to city sidewalks for play is an old concept, it has been done by private concerns in the past...

Remarks by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at Public Hearing on Local Laws

"The bill would amend the Administrative Code to permit fixed stand coin operated rides, to be placed on particular streets or in particular locations where sidewalk obstructions are otherwise prohibited. The placement of coin operated rides still must comply with other requirements, such as the requirement that no more than three fixed stand coin operated rides may be placed in front of any commercial establishment, no portion of the ride can extend further than five feet from the building line and that a width of at least nine and one-half feet shall be maintained on the sidewalk in front of such ride without obstructing pedestrian movement".link

If NYC businesses can place Sandy and other coin operated children's active amusements rides on our sidewalk space without obstructing pedestrian movement, then I feel this sets precedent for the placing of active recreation equipment for adults on on our sidewalks should be allowed  also.

and if this don't work we can always follow Los Angeles lead and place them on the streets!

   Los Angeles installs the nations first Active Recreation Micropark

More Outdoor exercise equipment 

We first “discovered” outdoor exercise equipment such as that in the photo above in Santiago, Chile. My kids were immediately hooked on what they refer to as big kid playground stuff. We’ve seen it in parks, playgrounds and on streets in Chile, Peru, Argentina, Thailand and now, in China.
We were walking back to our hostel in Chengdu when we came upon this set of bars and steppers. BigB and CAM (who had just been complaining about walking) dashed over and jumped on the steppers. As they pumped furiously, the little Chinese lady who’d been doing a quiet, calm and gentle work-out looked around as if seeking help from these raucous baboons.


   BEIJING: Public exercise equipment

Spacing correspondent Megan Hall is in Beijing this summer. Over the next few weeks, she will be sharing her observations of China's capital as it prepares to welcome the world to the 2008 Olympic games in August.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
BEIJING -- Beijing's parks must be some of the busiest in the world. They range in size from small corners of housing complexes to large, immaculately landscaped gardens. At any hour of the day they are packed with groups playing Chinese chess or cards, or elderly people sitting while their birds sing in cages on nearby tree branches.
A reasonably new feature of many of these public spaces is public exercise equipment. As well used as the benches and ping-pong tables, brightly coloured manual machines huddle on the edges of many parks, each designed to provide a slight workout to a specific part of the body. Despite the lack of instructions, Beijingers seem to have learned how each machine works, and although Beijing's parks seem to be used mostly by the elderly population, the machines attract all age groups.


Beijing: Exercise opportunities for all

With their bright colors, Beijing’s public exercise facilities resemble playgrounds. Courtesy of Alex Balfour, London
Since 1998, the Chinese government has created approximately 4,000 outdoor gyms in Beijing. Available to residents and visitors alike, these facilities can be found throughout the city’s parks, streets, and other public areas. The national and municipal governments have promoted these facilities through public events such as the annual National Fitness Day and Beijing Olympic City Sports Culture Festival.

Would-be gym-goers often site accessibility and affordability as two of the most significant barriers to regular physical activity, so the outdoor gyms are noteworthy for compelling more people to exercise more often. The outdoor exercise facilities include both machines that stretch and strengthen various muscle groups and machines that improve cardiovascular endurance, so they provide the same work-out available at a private gym. But since these machines are free to use, they appeal to the vast majority of the Beijing population for whom the high cost of joining a private fitness club is prohibitive.
People of all ages use Beijing’s outdoor gyms. Photo by jacksonwood 4 November 2007, Flickr Creative Commons
People of all ages use Beijing’s outdoor gyms. Photo by jacksonwood 4 November 2007, Flickr Creative Commons
For other Beijing residents, using the public exercise equipment represents a transitional stage between not exercising regularly and joining a fitness club. Above all, these facilities are intended to improve the health of city residents by helping individuals to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines.
The outdoor gyms also afford a number of secondary social benefits. Helping to animate the urban landscape, these machines represent yet another way for people to enjoy Beijing’s public spaces. Outdoor exercise has helped youths and elderly in particular to connect with others and to create communities within their city.


Beijing Shining Star Sports Equipment

Outdoor fitness equipment have become more and more popular during the past several years. Before, you might notice a lot of grassland and trees in the parks which could provide us with fresh oxygen and beautiful scenery, but now when you wander along the street or path in the parks, you might notice more and more outdoor fitness equipment installed and more and more people doing exercises on them. This kind of product brings people a new lifestyle and enable people to do outdoor exercises while enjoying sunshine and fresh air outside of the room. An absolutely different feeling than with indoor gym exercise. What’s more, because this kind of product take little room, affordable for investors, free of maintenance, and easy to install, these products are popular and used in many parks, residential areas, schools, militaries, etc...


see also:


- Fitness trail

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chelsea Park renamed Theodore K Gadsden Park

Family and friends at Theodore K. Gadsden Park  on August 4th, 2012.


A PROCLAMATION by the Park Chelsea Parks Commissioner,
recognizing “Theodore K Gadsden” on August 4th, 2012.

WHEREAS, ParkChelsea is concerned about the lack of enough great outdoor activities in the Chelsea neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, the ParkChelsea's mission is to encourage and create more outdoor space activities in the Chelsea neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, in order to do so ParkChelsea partners with local institutions to create these opportunities; and
WHEREAS, Theodore K. Gadsden, was a world trade center survivor, a well respected community leader and father of 4 who passed away from a heart attack at the tender age of 36.
WHEREAS, friends and family have created the Annual Grazhopa Basketball Tournament to honor his loving memory.
WHERAS, Aug 4th, 2012 is date of the 3rd Annual Grazhopa Tournment.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that ParkChelsea hereby officially recognize The 3rd Annual Grazhopa Tournment to be in the best interest of the citizens of Chelsea and that the site of Park Chelsea's Chelsea Park on 28th St between 8th and 9th Avenue shall be known as Theodore K Gadsden Park from August 4th, 2012 thru August 5th 2012.

Ranger Bob
ParkChelsea Parks Commissioner

Just in:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flatiron Plaza Active and Social Recreation Area Proposal

First off I feel that NYC's Plazas program has created some of the best public spaces in the city. This includes the Flatiron Plaza.  So this post is not about fixing a  bad space, it's about making a  good space into an even better one. 

On the east side of the Flatiron building is a seating plaza

On the next block uptown is another block of seating...
and on the next block downtown still more seating.

Madison Square Park, Worth Park,the Madison Green Privately Owned Public Space  are also immediately adjacent to these seating plazas. There is a really great deal of seating in this area. The thing is the only activities adults  can do in most of  the many  seating areas is passive recreation - sit, eat, read, chat, or  use the free wifi .  (I emphasize  adults because children can play in the MSP playground and dogs can do  active recreation in the MSP  dog run)

 A number of studies reviewed in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that “creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity combined with informational outreach” produced a 48 percent increase in the frequency of physical activity (Kahn, pp. 87-88) from: ALTERNATIVE WAYS, LOCATIONS, AND PARTNERS TO MEET THE

The nearest public adult active recreation areas are quite a distance from the Flatiron Plaza area. Here's an idea-why not add  active recreation to at least one of these area?

Here are several  possible suggestions:

The following can go either in the Flatiron Plaza or Madison Square Park:

-Adult active recreation  equipment

-A Fitness trail
Cost: Under $20,000 installed

-A Playground for Seniors
-Cost:Under  $50,000 installed

Table Hockey

Fitness trainers have discovered that Park Benches can double as fitness equipment. So just by adding signage that shows how, Madison Square Parks sitting benches can become Madison Square Parks fitness benches.  To see how click here.

Another idea is concrete  table tennis tables (cost 2 for $8,000), but due to traffic on the plaza, we'd only recommend this for Madison Square Park.

One playground leader said that parks were appropriately called
urban “breathing spaces” because “breathing was about all one was permitted to do in
them” (Boyer, pp. 244-245).
Active and Passive recreation

One of the characteristics of a Great Public Space as defined by the Project for Public Spaces is:  Does the space encourage communication or interaction between strangers?

                                           Activities that Create Community

Beyond active recreation it's also possible to add passive activities  to our plazas/parks that help create community  Bryant Park and Washington Square Park do an excellent job of doing this. There is no reason why ways can't be found to do this for our neighborhood outdoor parks and plazas. There is no need for a lot of space to do this.  On Parking Day people create spaces in parking spots that allow social interaction games to occur in a space the size of a parking spot.

Parking Day Card Game

Parking Day is a only once a year, so here is the Lotus garden on the upper west side where  there is  room to play games  in a relatively small garden space.

At Lotus by the addition of a small area with a table and chairs ...

they've  created a space to play Scrabble and other games

Piano Plaza

Luke Jerram in Times Sq, 2010
Credit "Photograph by Amarynth Sichel"

This piano in Times Square was part of the Play Me I'm Yours Project. Why not add a permanent piano to Flatiron Plaza?

Place a weatherproof plastic covering on it for rain/snow days and it will last years or try this....  

Walk Appeal getting people to walk through the neighborhood

 "Several decades ago, when William H. (Holly) Whyte was doing his "street life" research and observing people walking in cities, he concluded that people will walk many blocks if the walk is interesting. The quarter mile radius nonsense came from shopping center architects who used that as a standard template. But who would want to walk more than 1200 feet in a parking lot?"-Mark Hinshaw

The more frequently you change someone's view as they walk, the better you entertain them. Entertaining those who are walking means they'll likely keep walking. link

Walk Appeal

Steve Mouzon, Better! Cities & Towns

three women walking past a sidewalk cafe in Parma, Italy
Walk Appeal promises to be a major new tool for understanding and building walkable places, and it explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious. It begins with the assertion that the quarter-mile radius (or 5-minute walk,) which has been held up for a century as the distance Americans will walk before driving, is actually a myth.

Both images below are at the same scale, and the yellow dashed line is a quarter-mile radius. On the left is a power center. As we all know, if you're at Best Buy and need to pick something up at Old Navy, there's no way you're walking from one store to another. Instead, you get in your car and drive as close as possible to the Old Navy front door. You'll even wait for a parking space to open up instead of driving to an open space just a few spaces away… not because you're lazy, but because it's such a terrible walking experience.

The image on the right is Rome. The circles are centered on the Piazza del Popolo (North is to the left) and the Green radius goes through the Vittorio Emanuele on the right. People regularly walk that far and then keep on walking without ever thinking of driving.
satellite photo of American power center on left and Rome on right, showing quarter-mile radii and the distance that people will actually walk in each environmentThe London standard - 2 miles
streetscape in London with brick buildings trimmed in stone on either side of the street and a church with a weathered copper steeple at the end
Like Rome, the world's great cities have streets that are so good that you'll happily walk for miles. For convenience, I've set a two-mile radius for the London Standard, which was so named because I presented it for the first time in London. But it could just as easily have been the Paris Standard, the Florence Standard, or… you get the idea. Europeans are reputed to walk much further than Americans, and for this reason: their streets have much better Walk Appeal. Put a Parisian accustomed to walking five miles or more per day on a suburban American cul-de-sac, and they wouldn't walk much, either!

The T5 standard - 3/4 mile
Main Street office buildings at the Village of Providence, Huntsville, Alabama
People will walk about 3/4 of a mile on a good American Main Street. Or to be more precise, this is Transect Zone T5. Good T5 streets pull buildings right up to the sidewalk, and most of the buildings are fairly narrow because real estate is usually expensive in T5. Narrow storefronts change the walkers' view frequently, which is more entertaining than long blank walls or long stretches of the same building. New Urbanists from Australia have for years been advocating for a "elongated pedestrian shed" along Main Streets or High Streets. Walk Appeal shows precisely why they'e been right all this time....

click here to read more