Billy Johnson Playground

Billy Johnson Playground is popular for its innovative design that includes play features and materials inspired by Central Park’s landscapes.

This playground was designed by pioneering landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, who envisioned a play space that was connected to the design and experience of the Park. Instead of using standard play equipment, Friedberg created custom features inspired by the nearby landscape. The playground includes a wooden shelter (reminiscent of the nearby Dene Summerhouse), plantings and trails, a kid-size version of Gapstow Bridge, and two granite slides (one of them 45-feet long!) that re-create the experience of sliding down the Park’s rock outcrops.

In 2018, the Central Park Conservancy completed a renovation of Billy Johnson Playground that aimed to preserve and reinforce its rustic character, while increasing play opportunities and improving accessibility.

Billy Johnson Playground was originally funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Charitable Trust and named in memory of a family member, Billy, who died in a motorcycle accident.

Central Park has 21 playgrounds that are unique in design and character. Most of them were built in the 1930s as part of a system of playgrounds located along the Park perimeter. The Conservancy regularly updates these spaces to include new equipment and infrastructure that reflect changing ideas about children’s play and safety and accessibility standards. Since 2011, the Conservancy has been working to rebuild or renovate all the Park’s playgrounds, with the goal of bringing each of them up to the same standard of excellence at the same time and focusing on making them feel more connected to the Park’s landscapes and experiences.

Rustic steps and a stone bridge are highlights of the playground.
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Each year, more than three million children visit Central Park's playgrounds. Playground Partners raises funds that go toward the preservation, care, and daily inspection of these cherished play spaces.

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