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Clark Park: 1900

Clark Park: 1900

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1900. "Scene in Clark Park." In the background is merry-go-round we saw a few days ago. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.


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Clark Park

Clark Park was never in a fancy neighborhood. Those kids are mostly Irish, some German, and a scattering of Polish, nearly all Roman Catholic. It's right up the street from Most Holy Redeemer Church, which was one of the largest Catholic parishes in the United States. At the time, I'm pretty sure Clark Park wasn't even in Detroit proper, it was Springwells Township.

Marcel came close

If Marcel Duchamp could have turned the baby buggy upside-down he'd have made another readymade. Especially like the wicker snake and the infant on the swing who seems a little uneasy about his next venture in that vehicle to the wide and mostly bad world.

Kids with the Wagon

The kids in the swing look rather well to do, while the kids with the wagon have plain clothes and are barefoot! I'll bet that's the nanny on the park bench.

Class differences

Note that the children with fancy clothing (on the swing and merry-go-round) are all being attended by adults (the woman on the bench is clearly "watching" the baby from that Cadillac stroller and the other kids in the same group). The children all piled into one wagon are wearing flour-sack clothing and no shoes, and no adults are with them. The woman on the bench even looks as though she views the other children with disdain.

Hence, the "ritzy" kids get the good play equipment while the not-so-well-off ones look longingly at them. Same as today.

That look

Even after 111 years, that look of tired watchfulness on the young mother's face is ageless. Any parent can identify with it.


This ad was in the March 1903 Woman's Home Companion.
I guess this one in the park was one of the "100 illustrations of prize designs" in the catalogue.

Could be my grandmother

Born 1898 in Detroit.

Collector's Dream

That is one bodacious stroller!

Fancy Shmancy

That is one fancy little carriage they've got there.

Cadillac stroller

Spring suspension, multi-adjustable umbrella, removable upholstery for ease of cleaning, and there might even be a bell next to the finely crafted handlebars. This has got to beat today's hard plastic contraptions.

Keep Off!

Even back then they had to tell adults to stay off the children's swings. I wonder if they expected that many children to pile into that thing though.

Children Only

That's an invitation for anyone to use the equipment if ever I saw one. Or perhaps people were a bit more respectful 100 years ago?

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