Boys' Clothes for Outings to the Park: Activities


Figure 1--Here we see a pond in New York's Central Park during 1920. Note no one is allowed in the pomd, but the children are indeed sailing their toy boats. The boys are playing with model sail ships at the Conservatory Pond in Central Park. In this midtown neighborhood you can see Temple Beth-El, a fashionable synagogue at Fifth Avenune and East 76th Street, in the background. The boys mostly wear kneepants. Notice the caps, bows, and collars. I would have guesed this image to be a few years earlier if it were not dated. Click on the image to see more of this scene.

Attitides toward what activities were allowed in parks evolved over time. Some cities wanted parks reserved for quiet reflective stroles. Gradually the parks became more receptive to children playing, but even today regulations vary widely from park to park. Perhaps the activity most associated with the park is the hoop and stick. One of the popular activities for the park was the hoop and stick. The park was popular because some open spaced was needed to have a good run. Perhaps the most democratic of all outdoor toys was the hoop and stick as the hoops were so readilly available. Marbles were ceratinly popular. A popular activity evolved around the ponds in many parks. I don't think the children were generally allowed to swim or paddle in the ponds. Here I am not positive, but the absence of images of children splashing in the ponds leads me to suspect that this was not common. I'm not sure why this was, perhaps to maintain amore tranquil environment. Children were often allowed, however to sail toy boats in the ponds and this seems to have been quite common. Many photographs do show children around park ponds sailing boats.

Hoops

One of the popular activities for the park was the hoop and stick. The park was popular because some open spaced was needed to have a good run. Perhaps the most democratic of all outdoor toys was the hoop and stick as the hoops were so readilly available. Hoops were metal rings used in the construcyion of barrel. As a resuly it was popular throughout the 19th century. Hoops actually varied widely as did barrels. Some boys used small hoops. Other boys preferred muxhg larer ones. Some might be lmost as large as the boy. Boys rolling hoops were a coomon cite in city parks, although some may have prohibited such boisterous behavior. Hoops could also be rolled in city streets if a suitable park was not located nerarby. Available images of children playing with hoops provide some interesting information about boys' fashions at various times.

Marbles

Marbles has been a popular game for boys played for centuries. We believe that they were commonly played in parks, although some parks may have had regulations prohibiting some games like marbles.

Paddling Pool

A paddling pool was a small cement pond-like facility with a spinkler in the center. The water does not get deep and is thus safe for younger children. It does serve the purpose of cooling off in hot weather. Most partks did not have formal swimming pools. These tended to be major and expensive faclities to maintain. What parks did often have were small paddling pools for younger children. These tended to be much smaller and easier to maintain than formal swimming pools. A HBC reader recalls the small paddling pool in the London park near his home.

Playground Equipment


Sailing Toy Boats

A popular activity evolved around the ponds in many parks. I don't think the children were generally allowed to swim or paddle in the ponds. Here I am not positive, but the absence of images of children splashing in the ponds leads me to suspect that this was not common. I'm not sure why this was, perhaps to maintain amore tranquil environment. Children were often allowed, however to sail toy boats in the ponds and this seems to have been quite common. Many photographs do show children around park ponds sailing boats. The boys mostly wear kneepants. Notice the caps, bows, and collars. I would have guesed this image to be a few years earlier if it were not dated. The boys are playing with model sail ships at the Conservatory Pond in Central Park. Note no one is allowed in the pond, but the children are indeed sailing their toy boats. I was a little surprised not to see a boy wearing a sailor suit. They obviously come from relatively affluent families. They mostly wear knee pants with long black stockings although one boy at the right next to the water wears above-the-knee knickers. All are fashionably dressed. Note the variety of headgear. The boy on the left wears a large banded straw hat with a brim; the boy to his right with a large floppy tie and Eton style collar wears a small dark woolen cap. In this midtown neighborhood you can see Temple Beth-El, a fashionable synagogue at Fifth Avenune and East 76th Street, in the background.

Sandbox

A popular spot for the younger children in many parks was the sandbox. Early parks did not have such amenities for children, but by the early 20th century parks were increasingly catering for children. Many parks began installing sandboxes and playground equipment. We do not yet have details on chronlgical and country trends. e believe, however, that sanboxes were one of the first pieces of playground equipment installed. This may have been due to the relatively low cost of a sandbox and the fact that little children loved them and could amuse themselves for some time. We do not know who first came up with the idea and where the first one was installed.

Skating

While we do not note children swiming in park ponds. Skating does appear to have been an activity that was allowed in many parks and was a popular winter activity..

Other

Many other games were palyed in the park







HBC






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Created: June 9, 2004
Last updated: 10:58 PM 12/16/2004