30 Vintage Playgrounds That Give Today’s Parents the Cold Sweats

Would the kids of today survive the death-defying playgrounds of the past? Perhaps. Their parents? Chances are good for a heart attack.
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Back in the day, kids play on a playground.

Little girls play with ropes, without parental supervision or padding.

Nowadays, a slide this size would be unacceptable without safety precautions.

Children monkey around on the jungle gym.

The site of an old playground.

That’s quite the slide.

And that’s a long way to fall.

For a modern-day parent trying to avoid their child being hurt while engaging in some innocent outdoor peer interaction, what they read or view might make them decide to wrap their offspring in a perma-padded outfit.

Around and around it goes…

Weeeee! Be careful, kid.

Swing it like a pro.

For that same parent, the very thought of anyone playing on the equipment from the early 1900s geared specifically towards children would definitely be a panic attack in the making.

Photo: Geoff Robinson
In the early 1900s, safety precautions were minimal.
Kids find creative ways to use playground equipment.
Photo: Getty Images

To be fair, when playgrounds became popular ‘back then’ their main purpose was to keep kids out of hustle and bustle of the street.

And kids can also turn things that don’t look like playground equipment into a fun thing to climb.

Don’t fall on each other, kids.

What a circus act.

As long as cars and stampeding horses weren’t involved, parents were happy. For decades playgrounds evolved, with some of the riskier features being removed or dumbed down (turns out kids could still have fun without having to be 20 feet up in the air).

One long line of children on a slide.

A robot that kids can enjoy…and that prepares them for the robot revolution?

Nowadays, jungle gyms such as the one pictured often have a thick layer of woodchips to cushion falls and prevent more serious injuries.

When the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a handbook in 1981 with guidelines on equipment and what not to include, the plastic and rubber playgrounds of today began to take their first wobbly steps.

Overcrowding on slides can cause injury. Slides without an overhead enclosure increases the risk of a child falling and possibly resulting in a traumatic brain injury.

Swinging can cause injury not just by falling, but by strangulation if a piece of clothing gets caught in the mechanism.

However, some modern-day safety precautions – such as an adult riding down the slide with the child, can cause more harm and more chance of possible injury than good.

This unidentifiable playground structure does not seem particularly safe.

Without supervision or safety precautions, these little girls were at risk of injury or worse.

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