A description of public conveniences - like comfort stations, bath and wash houses - would not be complete without some reference to public playgrounds, such as are receiving so much attention at present in the more progressive of the large cities. These public playgrounds, with their necessary buildings, provide facilities for all kinds of amusements, sports and comforts, and must, therefore, possess many of the features of a public comfort station, club building, library, restaurant, gymnasium, bath house and recreation park combined, as may be seen by referring to Fig. 113, which shows the layout of a typical small playground in Chicago. Plans of the first and second floor of the recreation building erected on this park are shown in Fig. 114. Ample toilet accommodations, both for men and women, are provided in this building. In the indoor gymnasiums, in addition to the douche baths, there is a plunge bath, while outside in the open air is a large, delightful swimming-pool, a typical scene from which is shown in Fig 115. A shower house is provided close beside the swimming-pool, so that a thorough wash can be had before entering the water. See Fig. 116. The outdoor gymnasium is fully equipped with every kind of device that lovers of gymnastics could wish for, as may be seen in Fig. 117, while not least in importance is a sandy-bottom wading-pool, Fig. 118, in the children's playground, and close by is a sand court in which the children can build sand houses and make mud pies. Scattered throughout the grounds, at convenient points, sanitary drinking-fountains, Fig. 119, have been provided, so that no one need want for any personal necessities in the park.
Public playgrounds are badly needed in all large cities, and sufficient space should be provided in each so that all the children included within the district can have a chance at their favorite pastimes. A sufficient number of playgrounds likewise should be provided so that each section of the city or district would have one of its own.
In the condemning of property for a playground site, a good plan is to select some rundown ramshackle neighborhood where the dilapidated buildings and poor sanitary conditions are a menace to the health of the inhabitants, and by tearing down the old rookeries, convert this into one of the beauty spots as well as a useful city property.
In cities remote from water courses, the swimming pools may well be made serve as swimming schools, where boys and girls can be taught the art of swimming. A competent teacher or two in the course of a season would teach thousands to keep afloat in the water, and be able to save themselves in case of an accidental plunge into a lake or river. *The playground buildings, if properly conducted, can be made serve as boys' clubs, both winter and summer. If suitable instructors are provided, both in athletics and in manual training, the surplus energy in boys, the element which often leads a good boy astray by being misdirected, can be trained and turned into useful channels, reimbursing both the city and state a thousand fold.