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Washington Flyer: 1925

1925. Washington, D.C. "C.H. Milano, Ross School, 5-3/4. Plaza playground." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

1925. Washington, D.C. "C.H. Milano, Ross School, 5-3/4. Plaza playground." View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.


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The Plaza Playground

Was at Second and Massachusetts avenues Northeast, near Union Station.

Track & Field on Film

Extensive footage of track & field events from this era can be seen in the 1927 Buster Keaton movie "College." Keaton must become a jock to earn the respect of the woman he loves, and he tries about a dozen events -- including one involving a swinging ball that I think may no longer exist. In most cases, he (and the audience) watch a real athlete compete first, then Keaton tries to copy him and fails.

The footage includes high jump, pole vault, hurdles, javelin throw, etc.

Pole Vault

Landing in sand was also the norm for pole vaulters. I saw a photo of the 1948 Olympics, and sand was being used in the vault pit. Also, that was the last year for the bamboo pole. You can see from these world records from the 20's that the heights were fairly intimidating considering what you were going to hit on landing.

I tried pole vaulting in high school. In the 60's we had sawdust which we fluffed up as best we could. Still hurt at 8 ft, so that was when I decided that the javelin was much more sane.

13'5" Frank Foss USA 1920
13'10-1/4" Ralph Spearow USA 1924
14'0" Sabin Carr USA 1927

The Flop

The Fosbury Flop was invented circa 1968 to much derision, at least until Dick Fosbury of the University of Oregon won the Olympic gold medal. By the 1980 Olympics, the straddle was pretty much history.

Landing Spot

There is a sandpit for him to land in. I remember high jumping in junior high (in the late '60's) and our landing site was just a sandpit. And, yeah, it wasn't as nice as a big foam pad. But since I could only high jump 4 feet or so, not too much damage was done.


It looks like an old YMCA logo - there's one on the former YMCA in Cortland, NY. The triangle was inscribed with "Mind / Spirit / Body" on the three sides.

Scissors kick high jump

That style of high jumping involves a running scissor kick of sorts. The jumper leads with his left leg off the ground and is in the middle of the "kick" and will come down on his feet. Hence no landing pad. The "modern" method we see used nowadays was invented by Dick Fosbury - not exactly sure when or where so I don't want to guess - but the style is still to this day called the "Fosbury Flop."

Yikes ...

Looks like he's coming down on the pole.


No landing mattress? Thats gotta hurt!

I wonder what the circle-triangle logo means on his hoodie?

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