Best Playground - 2004
Julius Kahn Playground
The pull of the rich over our public realm has downsides. Disproportionate city resources go to yachting and golf. Cops concentrate in tony neighborhoods like the Marina. And, with the election of our Getty-backed mayor, the rich now apparently don't merely pay to elect public officials -- they first nurture them into adulthood. Thankfully, excess produces spillover, including a recent renovation of Julius Kahn Playground. Nestled in the heart of moola-land next to the best Presidio Heights mansions, this 1922 public playground just benefited from an overhaul using $800,000 leveraged from private donations. Now, it's the kind of playground where one might imagine rich people's kids frolicking. The landscape design firm Carducci & Associates built what it calls a "tactile fountain" running through the designer sandbox. It's actually an artificial creek raised on a faux-sandstone mini-aqueduct. In the spirit of the rich getting to do whatever they want, kids are allowed to splash in, pile sand on, and even run along the trickling creek bed. And the modern, overbuilt play structures, including a bouncy merry-go-round that appears to be designed by Willy Wonka, provide an excellent sideshow. The rich really are different from you and me. So it's nice when we get to use their facilities.