Something very special has happened to a former school parking lot in the Outer Sunset. Playland is new urban garden, play space, and skate park created for all the neighborhood to enjoy. The whimsical space was built by local residents and a community of volunteers to prove that with a little love and lots of work you can turn an abandoned expanse of asphalt into an oasis for the neighborhood to enjoy.        IMG_3005

How it Happened: It’s Elementary!
The San Francisco Unified School District, which owns the Francis Scott Key Elementary School and the surrounding parking lot, issued a one-year permit to temporarily transform the annex’s concrete lot into Playland at 43rd Avenue, named in a nod to San Francisco’s beloved Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park that was torn down in 1972. The school has been abandonded for years, and it’s amazing to see the large parking lot finally getting some use. The school’s buidling is closed and used for storage. Major Lee suggested turning it into affordable housing for teachers but that plan is still up in the air.

Pavement to Parks
This project was made possible from a collaboration between Friends of Playland at 43rd Avenue, San Francisco Parks Alliance, SFUSD and Pavement to Parks, a program that seeks to test the possibilities of underused areas of land by quickly and inexpensively converting them into new public spaces for communities citywide.

The project is intended to be a public laboratory for the city to work with local communities to temporarily test new ideas. Materials and design interventions are meant to be temporary, and easily reversible as more feedback and ideas start to come in.


Play How You Want at Playland
The play space has many components, including a community garden, picnic area, bbq pits, hay bale labyrinth, basketball courts, art installations, ping-pong tables, climbing structures, an artists’ studio, and of course, the skate park. It’s awesome for kids aged 5 and up, but keep an eye on toddlers as there are a few rough spots, and the floor is still hard asphalt or concrete under some structures.

Skate Land
Playland’s crown jewel is definitely the skate park. The skate park is also all-volunteer built, fueled by the community’s love of skateboarding and the need for more skate parks for newbies in San Francisco’s neighborhoods. Your kids will love it.

Vision for the Future: A play-space by the Community for the Community
Several of the architects, artists and designers that participated in the project will continue to collaborate with Playland to improve it for the enjoyment of all. There are many planned projects if you want to check them out on their site. Also, if you have ideas or suggestions that you think could be a great addition to Playland, please contact them and let them know. This is a play space for the community by the community!

Where: 1360 43rd Avenue (between Judah and Irving Streets). San Francisco, CA

Have you visited Playland at 43rd Avenue yet? Please let us know what you would add or change in the comment section!

–Sonia Gandiaga

All images are by the author