Providing playgrounds in the city was a uniquely 20th century phenomenon that reflected changing understandings of children and their place in urban life.
In this lunchtime conversation, historian Laila Ellmoos will look at how children occupied Sydney's urban spaces in the 20th century, with a focus on the introduction of supervised children's playgrounds in the inner city from the 1930s.
Supervised playgrounds were the product of a curious hybrid of town planning ideals, public health initiatives and philosophies around child development. Sydney Municipal Council established its first supervised playground at Moore Park in December 1932. The council’s main aim in setting up these dedicated play areas was to get children off the streets, away from the very real dangers posed by cars and traffic. Structuring and controlling the time and space of urban-dwelling children, by providing supervised play in a delineated and enclosed playground area, was also hoped to provide moral uplift and guidance.
Laila Ellmoos is a professional historian who is passionate about communicating history to a wide range of audiences through exhibitions, talks and the written word. She is a historian at the City of Sydney and a long-standing member of the Professional Historians Association of NSW & ACT.