CENTRAL PARK — Kids can return to climb, splash and play in Central Park's 72nd Street playground, which wrapped up an eight-month renovation this week.
The facelift brought in a brand-new push-button water fountain, a new sandbox, a climber that connects to a pyramid climber, new slides and tire and strap swings, according to the Central Park Conservancy, which held a ribbon-cutting on Thursday.
The former steel panel fence was also removed and replaced with a low wall and benches to keep kids safely in the playground.
"Most children's first experience in Central Park is probably at the playground," said Doug Blonsky, the Conservancy's president. "Then they expand to the rock outcrops and the baseball fields and later spend their lives enjoying the park. We want to be sure every New Yorker and visitor has a safe, wonderful playground, which is instrumental to the whole New York experience."
Robert Moses commissioned the playground in 1935 as one of the 16 original playscapes for the park. In the 1970s, the space was remodeled as an "adventure style" playground, which gave kids small walls to climb and tunnels to hide in.
The idea is the same for the new facelift, but the upgrade follows current safety standards and handicap accessibility while better blending into the environment, Blonksy said.
The Conservancy has undertaken an initiative to improve all 21 playgrounds in the park — with almost a dozen left to tackle — which have not been rebuilt in the last decade. Two other playgrounds underwent an upgrade this year on the west side of the park at West 93rd and West 67th streets. An upgrade at Mariner's Playground at West 84th is currently in the works.
The reconstruction was funded by the LeRoy Schecter Foundation.