Families: Where Have All the Swing Sets Gone?

New regulations and higher costs are emptying the nation's playgrounds

It was bright but cool in the backyard of the Duck Pond preschool in Oakland, Calif.--perfect climbing weather. So Chloe Fillinger pulled herself to the top of the play structure, where she reached for the fire fighter's pole, her three-year-old body poised for a fast ride to the bottom. Her hand flailed in empty space. "Cynthia!" she called to her teacher. "The pole is gone!"

Across the country, school fire fighter's poles are falling to hacksaws. Day-care-center swings are tumbling into trash bins. Parks are losing their seesaws, churches their jungle gyms, housing developments their slides. Whole playgrounds have closed, all...

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