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“The Ground Must Belong to the City”:

“The Ground Must Belong to the City”:

Playgrounds and Recreation Centers in Oakland’s Neighborhoods

(p.213) Seven “The Ground Must Belong to the City”
A City for Children
Marta Gutman
University of Chicago Press

As reform politicians swept to victory and women won the right to vote in California, clubwomen insisted that children had a right to play in public playgrounds and recreation centers. The Oakland Club led the drive for municipalization, as developers swallowed up informal play sites, traffic filled city streets, and reformers urged recreation be organized. Ethel Moore led the club to advocate for vacation schools, set up playgrounds in schoolyards, and win seats on the Playground Commission. Elizabeth Watt turned the New Century Club into an exemplar of Arts and Crafts design, and Mary Alexander invested in the Oakland Social Settlement. These artistic, home-like settings, where kids played on racially integrated playgrounds, became the core of public recreation centers. Even if recreation reformers ascribed to the nefarious theory of racial recapitulation, these sites were democratizing, demanded by cross-class constituencies and used by children and their families through the New Deal.

Keywords:   playgrounds, recreation centers, Oakland Club, Ethel Moore, vacation school, New Century Club, Mary Alexander, Oakland Social Settlement, racial recapitulation, democratizing

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