Who says kids are the only ones who know how to play? With a lot of our work being shipped overseas, a large number of empty factories are being left in their wake. So, what better solution than to take these dangerous eyesores and turn them into giant places to play?
That’s exactly what a group known as the Cassilly Crew, a tribe of 20 artists who worked with the now-deceased artist and sculptor Bob Cassilly has done, taking the former home of the 10-story International Shoe Company in St. Louis and turning it into, quite possibly, the world’s coolest urban playground. Named City Museum, Cassilly opened it in 1997, but it has since grown to epic (and epically beautiful) proportions as the group continues to work on it year after year.
So what can you find there? Oh, just a few things like a rooftop Ferris wheel (and a cantilevered school bus pushing off of that roof) subterranean caves, a sky-high jungle gym (that makes use of two repurposed airplanes), numerous multi-floor slides, two of which are 10-story (!!), a pipe organ, an aquarium, a circus arts facility, ball pits, a shoe lace factory, restaurants, and yes, even a bar. And all of it is connected by tunnels that wind from floor to floor throughout the 600,000 square-foot mega-playground.
As if it couldn’t get any cooler, all of the materials used are recycled — these include bridges, cranes and airplanes the city would’ve otherwise disposed of, and even the tiles used for the miles of pathways throughout are locally sourced, making this a very green project. Take a look for yourself and try (just try!) not to be bowled over.