2014 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Kids Play at Pershing Square

Pershing Square in #DTLA is ready for a makeover! Imagine a more welcoming @PSDowntownLA park w/a playground!


Please describe yourself.

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

The PAB is going install two playgrounds at the corner of 6th and Olive - one for 2-5 yr old children, one for 5-12 yr old children.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

Families from all over Los Angeles County visit Pershing Square.

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The plagrounds will be located at the southwest corner of the park; the 2-5 year old playground will be along Olive Street, and the 5-12 year old playground will be along 6th Street. Some of the beige, congrete walls that block visibility of the Park from the street will be demolished and replaced with smaller fencing and drought resistant landscaping. The playground equipment selected will promote healthy lifestyles, encourage skill-building and create unique outdoor experiences.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

This project is shovel-ready and we have secured matching funds. All planning, design, equipment/safety surface selection, and engineering has been completed. Once funding is secured, the project will be fully completed in 6-9 months.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to PLAY today? In 2050?

The PAB wants to establish a place for kids to be outdoors, dream, play and learn to work with others. So whether kids are playing on the playground swings at recess, or having friends over to swing on their own swing sets, it's more than playtime; it's a time to grow. A playground is a wonderful place for children to release stress. Swinging, jumping, climbing and running are good for children both physically and emotionally. Taking time away from structured activity is an important part of keeping a child well-rounded and healthy. A playground is not just a playground. It's a place for kids to dream, relax and learn to work with others. By nurturing our children in this way, we help create a healthier community.

Downtown Los Angeles has a changing demographic with 50,000 new residents and a growing number of children. The City and the residents are joining together to create new schools to accomodate the growing population of families moving to or being created in Downtown.

If we were able to transport to the realization of our vision of Pershing Square in 2050, we would find a reestablishment of the “Living Room” of Downtown Los Angeles. In the mid 1800's, the park was the center of family life and provided the local residents with a social gathering place of shaded walks and topical foliage, a community retreat. In the next decades as the city expanded, and its population center relocated, Pershing Square worked to establish a representation of its growth, and supported the incorporation of structural modifications designed to attract visitors to our growing city. After several reincarnations executed by creative work by the Department, and with strong support from the business community, it was resolved to reestablish the original dream to make Pershing Square once again the jewel of the downtown core, and offer the best of space to local residents, venue visitors, and tourists.

Pershing Square's South and Southwest kiosks will be children’s play areas serving the residential families in Downtown, South and East LA for decades to come. This common area for children and their parents will provide a friendly oasis for family fun.

Whom will your project benefit?

The Kids Play at Pershing Square Project will not benefit only benefit families with children in Downtown Los Angeles and the adjacent communites but all families who visit Downtown well as visitors to Pershing Square.

Annually, Downtown has 500,000+ weekday employees and more than 10 million annual non-local visitors. Pershing Square offers many programs to draw these locals, workers and tourists to the Park. Some of the programming includes:


Pershing Square hostsvenue hosts a free summer concert series for six weeks with entertainment four days a week, featuring a variety of music with local, national and international artists. The program runs July through August, Thursday through Sunday. The Summer Concert Series draws between 3,000-7,000 people per week.


Each spring, summer and fall over 25 free movies are shown at Pershing Square every Friday night from May through October. Patrons are encouraged to pack a picnic, bring a blanket or lawn chair and watch movies in Pershing Square Park.


The Farmers Market includes over 50 booths offering a variety of fresh, local produce and food offerings every Wednesday from 7:00am to 2:00pm. Specialty items such as jewelry and clothing are also available for purchase. The market allows the community another opportunity to meet friends and neighbors at Pershing Square. It also extends a welcome atmosphere to our farming community in other parts of Los Angeles.


Pershing Square Mobile Youth Team takes programming to underserved youth at pocket parks throughout the City. Recreation and Parks staff works out of City vans stuffed with games, toys, arts & crafts and sports equipment and coordinates fun after school leisure activities and providing homework help. This spring, Mobile Youth will be hosting it annual Extravaganza Spring Egg Hunt at Pershing Square. The event will host free arts and crafts, inflatables, age appropriate egg hunts. The mobile youth team serves over 100 children a week in the after school program. The day camp provides summer fun for 100 children a day. Youth events at Pershing Square number close to 1000 per event.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks are a confirmed partner and have committed matching funds for the Kids Play at Pershing Square project.

The Department brings the logistical expertise and authority necessary to implement this project; the PAB is the link to the Downtown community, being comprised of Downtown leaders.

The PAB has worked closely with the Department since its inception 9 years ago. The three factors that are critical to the success of our proposal collaboration include:

1. Steadfast committment from the Department of Recreation & Parks for this Project - the PAB was chartered by the Department, so we are integrally linked

2. Open Communication between Department and PAB

3. Community support and engagement

How will your project impact the LA2050 PLAY metrics?

Access to open space and park facilities

Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs

Per capita crime rates

Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods

Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)

Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)

Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)

Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

With the addition of a playground at Pershing Square the community can continue to meet the growing needs of its youngest residents. Playgrounds provide crucial and vital opportunities for children to play. The mobile youth program that is run out of Pershing Square provides children a safe place to come after school. A playground at Pershing Square would allow us to grow our current children's park programs, including our mobile youth after school programs.

Playgrounds provide a safe environment designed specifically to foster and enhance the opportunities for a child to play alone, with a caregiver, or with other children. Playgrounds provide crucial and vital opportunities for children to play. There is substantial research showing the clear link between play and brain development, motor-skills, and social capabilities. All learning—emotional, social, motor and cognitive—is accelerated, facilitated, and fueled by play. Playgrounds that promote different types of play are vital for a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development.The Kids Play at Pershing Square playground will provide a secure environment to grow community involvement and learning with the new families and visitors to Downtown.

There are currently 50,000 residents Downtown and another 5500 coming in the next 3 years. Kids Play at Pershing Square playgrounds (2-5 year and 5-12 year old playground) would be the second playground in Downtown. Given the importance of play in the development of a child, any space which gives a child free reign to do just that should be seen a crucial component in a child’s life and in the continued growth and development of one’s community.

Quite simply, the addition of a playground to Pershing Square will improve the quality of life for the downtown community.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


We have an established presence on Facebook, Twitter and our own website and can monitor feedback, likes, followers, connections and level of engagement through those channels.


At Pershing Square, we strive to accomodate demand for our programs, so increased use of the park can be guaged by demand for Park programs.


We have clear evidence that there is a direct correlation between the number of programs in the park and people using the park informally to a reduced number of security incidents as recorded by our security team.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

1. There is a increased number of children living in Downtown Los Angeles

2. There is a lack of dedicated play space for 2-12 year old children in Downtown LA

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Kids Play at Pershing Square has is shovel-ready and we have secured matching funds. All planning, design, equipment/safety surface selection, and engineering has been completed. Once funding is secured, the project will be fully completed in 6-9 months.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The only barrier left on this project is the final funding - the majority of the funding has been secured and all other barriers have been addressed.