Since the launch of the first playground in Manchester, England in 1859, playground design has continued to evolve. In 1887, the first public playground was introduced in Golden Gate Park in the United States, but today few parents are willing to allow their children to expand the equipment provided that day.
As our understanding of safety and the needs of children's physical and cognitive development has expanded over the past few decades, the design of commercial playground equipment has improved-albeit slowly. These advancements have improved the durability of playgrounds and the health of the children who use them.
From the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, public playground equipment was mainly composed of steel pipes. The hollow tube structure is formed as a seesaw, slide and "monkey stick" climbing device, which are durable frames that can withstand outdoor use.
Later, the playground designer developed a more imaginative design by adding metal plates to create simulated fire trucks, rocket ships and even jungle animal themed structures. Untreated pipes are easy to rust, corrode, and may produce metal burrs, posing safety hazards to children.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the popular choice for commercial playground construction was wood. It is cheap and easy to obtain, and it provides a natural aspect. The use of this material echoes the zeitgeist of the time, which encompasses nature and outdoors, and is conducive to the use of organic materials.
Although pressure-treated wood is more resilient than untreated wood and does help overcome decay problems, the long-term durability and safety of 100% wood structures are questionable. Concerns about the toxicity of the chemicals involved in the treatment process stopped its widespread acceptance. Wooden playgrounds are also susceptible to termites, and mold and moisture damage have never been completely overcome. Splitting, warping and other structural issues limit the overall lifespan of the wooden game structure.