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June 28, 1908: Duluth newspaper editorial calls for playgrounds for children

On this day in Duluth in 1908, an editorial in the Duluth News Tribune called on citizens to get behind the movement to build playgrounds for Duluth’s children. “The men and the women have their parks, their clubs, their links and their socials and other places of amusements,” the opinion read, “but what have the children? The vacant lots are rapidly being filled up and many of those still unimproved are forbidden to the children by the owners, who want no trespassing.” Duluth had recently organized a city chapter of the National Playground Association, and members had decided to raise enough money to establish at least one playground before the end of the year and hire two men as supervisors—one for the small boys and girls and the other for older children. They set a goal of $1,000, but the money did not pour in readily, and the editorial’s goal was to convince readers of the program’s merits. Despite the lukewarm support, the park board announced that swings and sand piles for children would be installed at Portland Square. Unfortunately, the surrounding neighbors complained that the children were too noisy, and the board removed the playground equipment after only three days. The News Tribune described the scene vividly: “Little ones in scores watched in mute astonishment their little merry-go-round pole come down, their swings fall before the hands of the workmen, and all the apparatus which had been a joy to them carted away on a truck. Half a dozen little girls sat on the curbing and wept.” Read the rest of the history of Duluth’s playgrounds and sporting facilities here.

Playground equipment at Observation Park photographed in 1929. (Image: Duluth Public Library)layground