Tenney Park

CoverLocation: North-east of downtown at 1414 E. Johnson Street.

TheĀ City Park Website lists all amenities with a google map.

NOTE: This playground will be updated in 2017. The neighborhood engagement process with the City of Madison Parks Department has begun. Contact me if you want to be involved!

This is ‘our’ playground. Located within the rather large and quite beautiful Tenney Park near our house, we end up here a fair amount. It’s partly shaded and rarely crowded. It is a pleasant setting, near a lagoon and among large trees.

My kids have always called it the Ladybug Playground. Today we arrived to find the ladybug gone. In the five years we’ve been visiting the playground, it has steadily lost play elements to now be less one slide, one ladybug and one snail riding/boing-y thing-y, and one sit-and-dig thing. I mentioned that digging contraption today and my oldest said, “yeah, I liked that. But it was mostly for adults.” The horse-shoe pit is no longer by the playground and one of the benches is so deeply sunk into the old-tire chips that it is pretty useless. Despite it all, my kids love the playground.


Playground-Review-logoWhat’s to love?

Adult: The park itself. Tenney Park is 37 acres along the shoreline of Lake Mendota and the Yahara River. You have to cross one of four bridges to get to it! The design is classic and classy, called the Prairie School. There are scenic spots for picnics and other coves among trees often singing with all sorts of birds.

Three-Year-Old: She loves the slides and tubes for climbing in. Nothing is overly challenging, she can manage it all on her own.

Five-Year-Old: She loves hanging her dolls from the bars and pushing her dolls on the swings. With her sister, they make the structure into a house/ice cream shop.

Thoughts: According to the City of Madison Parks Division, the Tenney Park Lagoon Playground will be reconstructed within the next 5 years. My kids like the playground, but there is nothing here unusual now that the Ladybug is gone. I’d love to see the playground moved closer to the water’s edge to encourage kids to notice and play within the naturally interesting landscape. I would also like to see play components for all ages. The park is widely used (though the playground is not) by a very diverse population. If the playground were designed for this setting, whole families would get into the fun of exploring the play-space.


About Jessica Becker

I am a community outreach professional raising two daughters with my husband in an old house on an isthmus. I wake early to practice yoga, I cook dinner for my family, I bike most places I go, and I believe that happiness is a life skill. It is up to each of us to create the causes of happiness. For me, that means seeing what is going on and engaging creatively with people and places. I write about it at BetweenTwoLakes.com.


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