Urban Play – Curtis Brown

The freedom to play without supervision was something I hadn’t put much thought into until reading this article. I grew up in the suburbs of Portland Maine, with the iconic white picket fence (photo could sadly not be found). Ever since I could remember, I was playing on our sidewalk. My small neighborhood consisted of five streets bordered by the main street and a public school enclosing the area. This creates a low traffic safe space that only had a few kids. This allowed my parents to let me run around the neighborhood without fear. All the neighbors knew who I was since I was one of the four kids in the area, so the area was covered in “eyes” to watch me as I biked around or walked to school alone.
Years later when I visited New York City in college, I saw a very interesting. Schools were flanked by armed guards and playgrounds had fences. Children seemed to have military-level protection. I felt trapped simply seeing how the children had to interact within the city. Long past were the idealistic days of playing in the New York streets the way I had communicated with my own home. Adults have so much fear in them today, that they will not allow their children to interact with the street and learn their neighborhood. This took away their “social interaction in their community [which allows] children to acquire the knowledge, rules, and principals who make the world go around” Simon Nicholson writes; having the chance to be alone and make my own mistakes like hurting myself or getting lost without parental attention taught me how to work on my own.
Many sections of Italy have small streets which don’t seem like natural spaces to play on for children. My opinion may also be skewed seeing as I observe tourist areas more often than local districts. At the end of the Children and City Design paper, it points towards a few aspects that make a city more “child-friendly.” Mixed use, mixed users was interesting from an urban planning standpoint since so many American cities are attempting to gain more mixed-use areas due to the massive success it sees in many European cities. It would also create more social areas, allowing kids to have a “safer” space in the minds of many adults.

Summer, The Lower East Side.
From https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/tag/kids-playing-in-the-street/
Gated Playgrounds
From https://www.yelp.com/biz/maxwell-place-park-playground-hoboken
Portland Maine Neighborhood
From maps.google.com

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