Giant Strides on the Playgrounds

The giant stride is a long-since-removed playground apparatus that dates from early 1900s. Simply put, it was a tall pole with ropes/ladders attached to it. Children could grab hold of the handles and run in circles, so fast that their feet would leave the ground. For safety reasons, it was mostly removed from playgrounds by the 1960s, though some remain.

Another Giant Stride - at a playground in New York City, ca. 1910-1915. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (click).

Another Giant Stride – at a playground in New York City, ca. 1910-1915. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division (click).

In graduate school I researched the manufacturing and development of the giant stride, and was fortunate to find a few images of giant strides. I’m jumping back into that research. Readers, have you come across any giant strides or remnants of giant strides? If so, would be willing to share those photographs? If so, please let me know. Your help would be very much appreciated. Here’s what one might look like today:

A giant stride on a Colorado playground. Click for original source.

A giant stride on a Colorado playground. Click for original source.

Previous playground posts on PiP:Playgrounds of YesterdayPreservation Photos #25Woodford PlaygroundPlaygroundsPreservation Photos #57.

19 thoughts on “Giant Strides on the Playgrounds

  1. Ellen Detlefsen says:

    There is a ‘Giant Stride’ in the playground in good ol’ TIPark; I’ll send you a pic when I get up there for the summer in late May.. peace, Ellen

  2. Kelly says:

    It was even more fun than as described. You could give another kid “lifts” by reaching back, grabbing a free hand and then swinging him or her past yourself and on to higher heights! Oh the broken bones and wonderful thrills! We’re still talking about it (I’m 55)!

  3. rotsmom says:

    That was my favorite thing to play on from kindergarten – 6th grade. I’m 36 years old. I don’t know how many times I got bonked in the eye/head, but it worked your reflexes…learn how to do or get off.

  4. Les milacek says:

    I am 62 and I attended a rural school in Nebraska 1957-1964. We had a Giant Stride there.
    It was a lot of fun, but could be dangerous if you weren’t careful.

    • Kaitlin says:

      I love hearing from people who used a giant stride! What part of Nebraska? Is your school still there? Any photos? I’d love to see and hear about it.

  5. Barbara says:

    I had a giant stride at my elementary/middle school (multi-grade, small church school) growing up in the 80’s. It is gone now, but it was there until the 90’s I believe. This was in Fort Pierce, Florida. I also came across one in a park in Geneva, Switzerland when I was doing a semester abroad in 1997. I have since searched online and used google earth even to see if it is still there, and from what I can see, they have removed it. Sad, because as dangerous as they can be, I had an enormous amount of fun playing on it when I was young.

  6. sczorina says:

    Hi, I am 73 and I loved the giant stride. There was a way you could take one of the children and wind them around the others (this is done before starting the swing) then when everyone starts running around the pole, the one that is wound up would really fly! I am from Oklahoma

  7. Susan lantz says:

    We Had one of those relics on our playground in the 70s. Great fun until a classmate flew off (another, older kid had purposely jerked it to knock everyone off.) anyway, she flew off going at a high rate of speed, landed fce first onto a rock, and broke her nose do badly that she was hospitalized for several days. We are now 45 years old, and she still suffers terrible sinus problems as a result. The Giant Stride in our playground, while not disassembled, had the chains removed immediately thereafter…

  8. Jane Robinson says:

    We had a Giant Stride on the playground where I went to elementary school in a small Texas town called Beckville. We had so much fun on this. What would make us really fly is if someone heavy was directly across from you. I was probably 60-70 lbs. back then and I would always make sure there was someone a little overweight on the opposite side. And, omg, the blisters on our hands we suffered but did not stop us. Those were the days, my friend.

  9. j. creel says:

    This playground ride was not for the faint of heart, but taught collaboration skills needed for survival. Spacing was important and everyone needed to maintain a consistent speed both while accelerating the spin and again when coming to a stop. If anyone fell off or jumped off, the rider in front of the empty chain was at risk of a chain and handgrip to the back of the head. None of the posted photos are exactly like the strider I rode in the fifties at Ashburn Elementary in Virginia. Our strider had single hand grips at the end of the chain. Wonderful fun but definitely a team effort!

  10. lduhon says:

    We have a giant stride that my grandfather made for my mother and her siblings in the 1950s. Still being used (and still bonking kids in the face) by the third generation of children in my family. It is set on the family property between my mother’s and aunt’s house so all the great grandkids can share. My daughter introduced her bff to it today. We googled pictures to show her mom. That’s how I stumbled onto your website. Our giant stride is a cherished family tradition.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Thank you for visiting and sharing. I’m so glad to hear others use the giant stride. If you’d care to send pictures, I would love to see them. The giant stride remains one of my random interests. Cheers!

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