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By Jamie Mallette
The public space I have chosen is Central Park. In Central Park, there are many well-known sites that receive copious amounts of attention, but there are also lesser-known sites that are the playgrounds that dot the Park. Children and their parents populate these playgrounds, but I believe children should not be limited to playgrounds. There are spots such as Belvedere Castle and the Naumburg Bandshell that children would like to play on but might be scolded by their parents because those areas are highly trafficked and not meant to play on.
I propose that near sites that was mentioned above, playhouses for children be set up where they can play and learn the values of these imposing sites. For a small child, the size and foreboding nature of these buildings can be intimidating and unwelcoming. Also, a child growing up in the city may not have had a backyard to play in. If playhouses were set up for kids to play, then they could feel as if Central Park was their backyard. These playhouses will be set up in certain areas and focus on the specialty of that area. For example, a playhouse near the Naumburg Bandshell will focus on music and will have instruments that children can play with, make their own music and even put on little concerts.
Similar to this, a playhouse placed near Belvedere Castle could teach children about the history of the Castle, and to continue its traditions of scientific inquiry with instruments, which include telescopes and barometers. A playhouse near Delacorte Theater would allow children to dress up and put on plays of their own. Even the architecture of the numerous bridges and archways, are key features of Central Park. While children will not be learning about blueprints and the technical aspects of architecture, they would enjoy making replicas or designing their own bridges and tunnels out of popsicle sticks, especially if they get to eat the popsicles for the sticks.
This work would be periodic, as the playhouses would be used more in the summer and fall rather than in the winter with the low temperatures and snow. I think children would really enjoy the opportunities they will be given to make new friends and get involved with sites that may have been previously inaccessible to them. I would like this work to make children feel as if their backyard is Central Park. I grew up in New York all of my life, and I never had a backyard and while I was taken to some parts of the Park, I never knew which ones nor do I remember now anything about those places. I want the children who would play in the playhouses to get to know the places in Central Park, and they will always have a special connection to the Park even if they move away from New York someday.
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