The Playstead is a large and actively-used sports area originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1886. It was built for recreational purposes and was once quoted as “the finest playground ever set apart for children’s exclusive use in this country” by the Boston Herald Traveler. Since its construction, the Playstead has been used for many purposes including housing elephant exhibits for the Franklin Park Zoo and the planting of the victory gardens after World War II. Read more about the history of the Playstead here.

Currently, the Playstead is a large open field with two softball diamonds. It is used for baseball, softball, rugby, soccer, football, and cricket. The Playstead houses two basketball courts and two of the park’s tennis courts (the other pair is adjacent to the Shattuck Picnic Grove). There is also a popular picnic grove in the southeast corner near the Zoo entrance.

Throughout the year, the Playstead is home to many events including the annual Kite & Bike Festival and other community cultural festivals. It is also the start site for all the cross-country meets in Franklin Park.