Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse opens

The Smith Memorial Playhouse and Playground in East Fairmount Park has been a favorite spot for local children since 1899. (

Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse has been a Philadelphia landmark and tradition for generations. A non-governmental charity with free admission, Smith's five acre outdoor play space sits on a sloped, wooded area in East Fairmount Park.

With its woodland hillside setting, its unique equipment and a 24,000 square foot playhouse set in a historic building designed specifically for child's play, Smith aids in the physical, emotional and intellectual development of children in the Philadelphia area.

Smith is also home to the famed Giant Slide, a source of delight and marvel to children for nearly a century. As America's oldest non-profit private playground, Smith initiated many innovative programs that are in existence today.

Opened on July 23, 1899, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse came to be through the generosity of Richard and Sarah Smith, in memory of their son Stanfield, making it the first endowed playground in the nation.

The Smiths wanted to build a safe place in the country where children from the city could come to play free of charge. The Playhouse was never used as a residence; it was built exclusively as a playhouse for the children of Philadelphia.  

The Giant Slide was added in 1905 and is the most popular and well-known piece of equipment at Smith Memorial.