It was functional and complete including the original paint. Historians identified the 12 ft. high swing as the prototype for inventor Charles Wicksteed's first garden swing built almost 90 years ago.
As early as the 5th Century B.C., Greek vase paintings pictured children and women swinging on swings. Centuries later in the U.S., pioneer families constructed swings using wooden sticks and rope tied to a tree. Over the centuries, swings have been made out of many materials: vines, sticks and wood, steel, tires, and a thick rope knotted at the end.
Safer and more standardized swings emerged in the late 1800's. Modern swings sets and other playground equipment can be directly attributed to the successful implementation of child labor laws when the natural progression went from children working in factories to allowing them the enjoyment of outdoor play.
Supported mainly by women and educators, there was a public outcry for safe spaces for children to play outside during the day. It was at that time the local playground was born and many recreational associations sprung up along with it, including The National Playground Association and The National Recreation Association. These groups provided playground equipment and recommendations for schools. Aware of the necessity for play even during the hard economic times of the Great Depression, the federal government continued to fund them.
(Photo: Geoff Robinson of The London Daily Mail shows the swing with its original thick wooden seat, chains, and red and green paint.)
In the earlier part of the 20th century, most playground equipment was made of steel. The hard materials made some types of play dangerous. It wasn’t until the 1970's that softer materials like wood and plastic became widely used. It was then that long-lasting redwood became popular for the construction of play sets, and colorful plastic was implemented for the construction of swing seats. Belt swings and chains were coated with plastisol to eliminate pinched fingers. These changes greatly reduced playground injuries. Safer structures continue to be invented, ensuring that one of the happiest of childhood memories is a safe way to play. Regardless of how swings change over the years, they will always be responsible for smiles on the faces of children and adults alike.
(I had a wonderful homemade swing similar to this one.)
During pioneer times in in the United States, swings were made of wooden sticks and rope tied to a tree. This allowed for a much needed distraction during long journeys through the prairies cooped up in covered wagons.
The first U.S. playground was built in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in 1887. Swings were no longer suspended from trees but rather from their own frames built specifically for that purpose. The term "swing sets" originated during this time because they were always built in pairs.
(my neighbor's tire swing)
After the end of World War II, Americans began enjoying new prosperity. Families moved to the suburbs, and people wanted the best outdoor swing sets in their own backyards. Better swing sets are continuing to evolve, and their development comes with new safety regulations that should always be heeded. Consumer’s Digest warns that no equipment such as swings should ever hang from horizontal climbing bars (monkey bars) because of the risk of children getting tangled in the chains or ropes.
In 2016, Backyard Discovery and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America set a Guiness World Record for creating the longest swing set in the world using 51 individual Backyard Discovery sets (click for the video). After the project was completed, each swing set was donated to a family.
It’s rare to find a child who doesn’t like to swing. People may think that's just because it’s fun, but there are also some neurological benefits to swinging. Swinging helps children sleep. Studies have shown that children who swing regularly sleep better because the motion helps balance neurological activity in the brain. Swinging benefits children with a wide range of sensory issues. Many children have symptoms of sensory processing problems from time to time. Therapists consider a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder when the symptoms become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life. Swinging benefits children on the Autism/Asperger’s Spectrum, and it is a well-known therapy for children with autism to swing daily. Many parents with children on the spectrum have both indoor and outdoor swings so their autistic child can benefit from swinging late at night and during inclement weather.