Monday, May 28

An Illustrated History of the Picnic Table

Picnic grove at Cedar Point, an amusement park on Lake Erie, Sandusky, Ohio; postcard dated 1911.
"From campground to crab shack to suburban backyard, the picnic table is so ubiquitous that it is nearly invisible as a designed object. Yet this ingenious form — a structurally bolted frame that unites bench seats and table into a sturdy package — has remained largely unchanged since the 1930s. Having transcended the picnic, it is now the ideal setting for any outdoor event that compels us to face one another squarely across a shared surface. Even a conversation between the former President and Secretary of State is transformed. There is something intensely familiar about this massive table on the White House grounds; though it is off-limits to the public, we can imagine sitting there ourselves. The table seems to humanize its powerful occupants, even as it curiously diminishes them with its over-sized components. These qualities of familiarity and abundance have made the picnic table an American icon. ..."
Places Journal

Arthur Wigram Allen and his brother Boyce picnic in Sutton Forest, Australia, 1900.

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