Parks in the Thirteen American Colonies

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American History Glossary
Clickable map of the 13 Colonies with descriptions of each colony
Daily Life in the 13 Colonies
The First European Settlements in America
Colonial Times

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The American colonists had parks in their communities, but they didn't really have playgrounds or swing sets.

In colonial America, the park was more commonly called the common. These areas were found especially in the New England colonies. Boston still has its common.

The common was short for "common area," a large area in the center of a village or town where people would gather before and after meetings. The common usually contained the meetinghouse. New Englanders also let their cattle graze in the common. (This was a large area, after all!)

Villages and towns in the Middle and Southern colonies had common areas as well. Here, children played, tutors instructed students, and families gathered to discuss the news of the day. Games kids played included tag, marbles, hopscotch, hide-and-seek, and other names familiar to kids today. They didn't really have toys, so they often made their own or played outdoor games that didn't require toys. An example of this is kids' making and flying their own kites.

As is the case today with parks, colonial common areas provided an opportunity for people to gather in a safe place.

More on Life in the 13 Colonies

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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