The Field

This is a second in series of blog posts on the landscape of my childhood home. Part 1 is here.

At the end of our road in Wilmington, Delaware, there was an open field.  We called this plot of land simply, “The Field”.  Technically, it was part of the easement for the high-tension lines that ran through this section of North Wilmington.  It fit between two developments, ours, and the neighboring Westwood Manor and as such, it fit into almost any definition of “liminal space”.  We accesses the field by wandering up a driveway at the end of our cul-de-sac and passing to the north of a wooden fence. A well-worn dirt path extended from the top of the driveway to a bend in a road in Westwood Manor. By linking these two developments, we were able to by-pass the busy and narrow Veale Road and get access to other main thoroughfares – particularly Silverside Road – which were wider with bike lanes. The southern part of the field was bounded by “The Woods”.

These kinds of waste areas – so prized by peasants in the Middle Ages – formed the edge of our imaginative world. As far as I can recall nothing much ever happened in the field. It was usually overgrown so not particularly conducive to sports, although I have a vague memory of playing some kind of sports on it a few times. It lacked any distinguishing features – like rocks or holes – to capture the imagination.  There were legends, of course, about the field having caught fire once.  Mostly, however, it was route between two neighborhoods and a buffer zone between our space and space that was a bit more foreign.

Historically, the field seems to have predated our street, but it does not appear on the 1937 aerial photographs.

TheField1937
This is based on the 1937 aerial photographs, but I suspect the orthorectifying is a bit off and perhaps should be offset to the north by approximately 25 m.

So the power lines probably cut through the area sometime in the 1940s around the time that Westwood Manor was built (more on this later). 

TheField1954

In my memory, The Field was always open, but in 1987 a house was built on part of The Field encroaching on The Woods.  Despite this intrusion, in the early 1990s, the well-trod path linking Westwood Manor and “The Street” remained visible in aerial photographs. It runs along the north edge of the

TheField1992

By 2007, the path is visible only as a slight white line and the 1987 house has developed almost the entire open space.

TheField2007

Like the Middle Ages, the waste was developed and the imaginative fringe of my childhood universe taken over and developed.

3 Comments

  1. Great series of photos. I too had a large “field” near my childhood home — actually a large undeveloped property between the interstate and a major road. It happened to separate an area of freestanding houses from apartments — and, in the values of that place and time, separated people judged to be more respectable from those who were more marginal. The field typically was used for kites and dune-buggy style go-karts. Sadly, in the 90s it became the home of hundreds of storage units. The field is no longer a place for play, but it still serves to separate (primarily) property owners from renters. Or, perhaps it unites the two groups in a common need for extra storage space.

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  2. […] This is a second in series of blog posts on the landscape of my childhood home: Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here. […]

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  3. […] is a second in series of blog posts on the landscape of my childhood home:Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is […]

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