Jordan Park was established in 1889 as the first public playground in Krakow and the first of its kind in Europe. It was equipped with exercise fixtures modelled after those of similar playgrounds in the United States. The central point of the park is a man-made pond, a place for group activities, such as boat rowing or water bicycles.
The original Jordan Park included a swimming pool, 12 playing and soccer fields and numerous running and exercise tracks. Additional facilities were added for indoor activities in 1906, in case of bad weather. The park was also equipped with locker rooms and showers. On top of that, a free meal service was established for children.
Since the beginning, Jordan Park has run programmes based solely on games and exercises. Classes were originally run by students of Krakow’s universities, whose work was supervised personally by Jordan. There were 14 fields of different shapes and sizes in the park that included many gymnastics devices.
The main focus of the park was on games, so that the participants wouldn’t feel pressured but rather spent time exercising in a pleasant way. They practised the javelin throw, archery, and organised walking on stilts, but also played team sports based on field competition. Soccer, cricket and tennis were introduced, as well as common games such as “Chinese wall”, “cat and mouse” and many others. Activities were to be learned and practised outside the park as well, even if there weren’t any sport facilities nearby.
The most innovative aspect of Jordan’s idea of a public park was perhaps the change in public’s perception, by stressing the importance of physical education and making people realise that physical exercise was equally important to intellectual development of children, and that it shaped their personality.
The concept of Jordan’s garden became very popular throughout interwar Poland. Similar gardens were opened in Warsaw, Płock, Kalisz and Lublin. In 1928 the Society of Jordan’s Gardens was established to oversee the building of all recreational facilities in the country.