Salem’s Forest River Park has lots of attractions: dazzling views of Salem Harbor and Marblehead, a shady green expanse, bike paths, beaches, a playground, a swimming pool, a baseball field, Pioneer Village, America’s very first living history museum, and its most distinct feature: a slide made of concrete. Concrete, children, and sliding seem incompatible to me, but there it is, and it has been there for some time.
A friend and former student of mine has shared a picture with me (and you) from the 1940s taken by her father: there is Priscilla sliding down the Forest River Concrete Slide fearlessly. It’s such a great picture.
And here is the slide today: as Priscilla points out, cardboard was an absolutely necessary accessory for those who ventured onto the concrete slide, both for comfort and speed. The pieces of cardboard strewn about the slide are not litter, but evidence that it is still used.
Despite the evidence of the cardboard, I have never witnessed any children on the slide, but maybe I haven’t hung around the park enough. While I was there this afternoon, these three contemplated it, but ultimately opted out.
I don’t know of another concrete slide in New England but apparently they are big in Northern California. San Francisco, Berkeley, and Davis (that I know of) all have public parks which feature such slides, restored, well-maintained, and evidently quite popular. I suspect Salem’s slide might be an example of California culture come East, but I’m no expert on “playground architecture”. Below are the rather more elaborate concrete slides in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and Berkeley.