Tiny Town (miniature park)

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1919 Tiny Town displayed at
Springfield Convention Center Tiny Town village.jpg
1919 Tiny Town displayed at
Springfield Convention Center

Tiny Town, in Springfield, Missouri, was the first city built in miniature and had over a thousand structures. A smaller village version was completed in 1919, while the larger full version was completed in 1925. It was motivated primarily by a local homebuilding promotion. The project involved 10,000 students from eighteen Springfield public high schools. The superintendent of the school system was a key instigator of the project and used it as a teaching aid to instruct students in government, home-ownership and citizenship.

Contents

Background

Construction by students Tiny Town construction.jpg
Construction by students

Tiny Town was the first complete city built in miniature. [1] [2] The project's primary motivation was "Build Now," a promotion originated by the local director of publicity W. H. Johnson to stimulate Springfield's home-construction industry. [3] [4] Tiny Town, a 1920s community-involvement project and miniature park, [5] [6] was produced by the Springfield director of publicity and the chamber of commerce. [7] [8] [9] A village version, consisting of about 400 houses and 250 garages, was first exhibited on the basement floor of the Springfield convention center in 1919. [10] [11] [12] It was built by teenagers, who scaled Tiny Town at one-half inch to the foot (1:24). [12] The complete miniature city was built in 1925 in a city park, with 1,000 houses and about 200 other structures (including garages, apartments, and public buildings). [13] It encompassed every aspect of an early-20th-century city. [14]

W. H. Johnson by structures Tiny Town with Johnson.jpg
W. H. Johnson by structures

W. W. Thomas, superintendent of the Springfield public-school system, believed that home-ownership and citizenship responsibilities were a part of education and was a key instigator of the project. [15] [16] He involved students in the governmental duties associated with the project, which used the manager-commission form of government to run the lilliputian city. [17] Concepts such as women’s suffrage and political ambition came into play. [5] [18] [19] A 14-year-old orphaned girl was elected Tiny Town's mayor and a 15-year-old boy became its city manager, defeating sixteen other nominees in a political campaign. [20]

Description

Houses under construction Tiny Town houses construction.jpg
Houses under construction

The miniature city project involved students from eighteen Springfield public high schools. The students, who were learning construction and handicraft, built the city of about 1,200 structures under the supervision of their teachers. It consisted of 1,000 miniature houses, in several neighborhoods, and 200 other structures. The miniature buildings and houses were built according to standard construction plans, and lumber and building-materials companies donated items for the project. [21] The buildings and homes were landscaped with real grass. [22] Their interiors were furnished and decorated like a full-sized house or building. [23] The buildings were scaled at one-half inch to the foot. [24] Tiny Town, with water mains and electric lights, was laid out on streets like a real city. [1]

Students of the vocational-training departments of Springfield's public schools constructed the miniature city buildings. Much of the smaller work done by the students was done at home to involve their parents. [5] Ideas introduced to the students were how to be a citizen of a community, home ownership [5] and the infrastructure of city design. [25] Ten thousand students built the outdoor miniature city over a ten-week period. Tiny Town, assembled on a five-acre city parcel, was 1,000 feet long and 250 feet wide—250,000 square feet (23,000 m2)—representing 155 acres (63 ha) of real land. [5] [26] The miniature city had 7,500 feet (2,300 m) of paths through neighborhoods containing houses, schools, churches, libraries, stores, apartments, and government buildings. [27]

Tiny Town village sections.jpg
Preliminary convention-center exhibit, showing Tiny Town's neighborhoods

Prizes

Prizes were awarded for the best structures, the best art posters, and the best cutout books made by students about Tiny Town. [28] [29] The prizes were available only to vocational-training students and students otherwise involved in the project. Student officials were in charge during the awards at the Springfield convention center. [30] The carpentry of the framing and exterior of the homes was done primarily by the boys. [31] The supervisor of the art department of the participating schools had an interior home-decoration contest to involve the girls, who made draperies, furniture, and floor coverings and beautified the homes' interiors. [32]

Outcome

Tiny Town homes for sale Tiny Town homes For Sale.jpg
Tiny Town homes for sale

Tiny Town was finished and available for public viewing on May 25, 1925. The event was covered by newspapers throughout the United States. [33] A 7-by-8.5-inch (18 by 22 cm)Tiny Town Times newspaper, explaining the events and exhibits, was published daily during the exposition [34] and distributed to other towns. [35] The students reported scoops such as the names of Tiny Town's streets. [36]

The exhibit of miniature houses at Grant Beach Park in Springfield had an admission charge. It was open to the public for three weeks, until June 13, [37] and discounted children's tickets were available at businesses throughout the city. [38] Many individuals and businesses in Springfield donated money to the project. [12]

The Build Now promotion and the Tiny Town project substantially increased homebuilding in Springfield. [5] When the exhibition was over, many of the tiny homes were sold and the prize-winning structures were used as window displays in Springfield's major stores. [39] The Tiny Town committee unsuccessfully petitioned the United States Post Office to appoint a "postmaster" and obtain a mailing address for the miniature city during the exposition. [40] Before the Tiny Town exhibition opened, it was announced that a group of "officials" from the miniature city would go to Washington, D.C. to invite President Calvin Coolidge to visit; [41] [42] although people from all over the United States came to see the exhibit, Coolidge did not. [37]

Prize-winning models

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References

  1. 1 2 Kane 1997, p. 105.
  2. "Springfield's Tiny Town". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 26, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg . a city was born, the only one of its kind in the world
  3. Plank 1919, p. 265.
  4. Johnson, William H. (May 17, 1925). "The meaning of a Home". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield Missouri via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Thomas 1919, p. 397.
  6. Constructive Philanthropy 1919, p. 755.
  7. American Builder 1919, p. 142.
  8. Kriechbaum 1924, p. 71.
  9. Leighton 1919, p. 483.
  10. Christian Register 1919, p. 929.
  11. Shiras 1919, p. 141.
  12. 1 2 3 Education Journal 1919, p. 155.
  13. "The Story of Springfield's 'Tiny Town' Exposition". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 17, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  14. Kane 1935, p. 85.
  15. "School of Citizenship". Iowa City Press-Citizen . Iowa City, Iowa. June 11, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  16. Johnson 1919, p. 440.
  17. "Children Build and run City / Used to Teach Pupils Art of Government". Circleville Herald. Circleville, Ohio. June 10, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  18. American Lumberman 1919, p. 41.
  19. American Architect 1919, p. 442.
  20. "Lilliputian City is Governed by School Children". The Republican. Columbus, Indiana. May 25, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  21. "Tiny Town Committee to meet Monday Noon". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 10, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  22. City Manager 1925, p. 13.
  23. "Tiny Town Committee to meet Monday Noon". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 10, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  24. "Tiny Town Exposition is Attracting Nation-Wide Interest". The Springfield Leader . Springfield, Missouri. March 29, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  25. Advertising & Selling 1919, p. 58.
  26. Bonnier Corporation 1925, p. 51.
  27. "Children Build and Run Model City in Missouri". Brown County Democrat. Nashville, Indiana. July 30, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  28. "Springfield's Miniature City "Tiny Town" to Open Tomorrow". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 24, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  29. "Tiny Town Exhibit at Grant Beach Park Continues to Attract Large Crowds Daily". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. June 2, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  30. "Newspapers Throughout The Country Are Featuring "Tiny Town" Exposition". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 31, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  31. Grant 1919, p. 269.
  32. Thomas 1919, p. 398.
  33. "Special Writers Sent Here to cover TINY TOWN story". The Springfield Leader. May 27, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  34. "Another Daily Newspaper will be launched here". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 20, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  35. "New Paper in Springfield". The Neosho Daily News . Neosho, Missouri. June 3, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  36. "Tiny Town Tooters are to provide program tonight". The Springfield Leader. Springfield, Missouri. June 2, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  37. 1 2 "Tiny Town exposition will continue for another week". Springfield Leader. Springfield, Missouri. June 6, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  38. "Have You Seen TINY TOWN?". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. May 31, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  39. Bruce 1919, p. 398.
  40. "Large crowds are attending Tiny Town exhibit at Park". Springfield Leader. Springfield, Missouri. May 30, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  41. "Tiny Town Major Will Visit National Capital To Invite Coolidge to See Exposition". Springfield Missouri Republican. Springfield, Missouri. April 11, 1925 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .
  42. "Tiny Town City Manager and Mayoress Will Go To Washington". The Springfield News-Leader. 3 May 1925. p. 8 via Newspapers.com Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg .

Sources

Coordinates: 37°13′26″N93°18′00″W / 37.224°N 93.300°W / 37.224; -93.300