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The History of the Swing

Swings are so ancient that we do not know their exact origin, only that they have been part of human play for as long as we can imagine. Ancient cave drawings throughout Europe, carved figures from Crete, various pieces of art from Asia, and ceramic vases from Greece all depict the early use of swings. It’s thought that even before these pieces were created, the very first swings may have been made from plant fibers and vines from tropical jungles. Seafarers and hunters who knew how to braid hemp into rope may have hung them from tree branches, attached wooden planks, and created swings, too. In the 1700s, French artists depicted swinging as an amusement for adults in the nobility, but by the 1800s, industrial advancements had made swings accessible to almost anyone.  The playground movement in early 1900s America put swings in public spaces so that children who lived in apartment buildings could enjoy the pastime. Parks and playgrounds all over the country further popularized the swing in a more formal way. In the mid-20th century, Americans living in the newly created suburbs began to place freestanding, family-sized swing sets on their properties. While the equipment, materials, and safety regulations have evolved since then, the swing (and often, the backyard swing set) has remained a staple activity that is still enjoyed today.

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