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The Evolution Of The Stroller [A Photographic History]

By Monica Bielanko |

From baby carriage to umbrella stroller: a complete history.

The stroller is one of the most important (and expensive!) purchases a parent can make. But if you’ve ever been in a store with an unruly toddler you know the importance of strapping the kid down in a stroller. Maybe that’s what strollers are? A socially approved method for restraining your child?

Almost nothing beats the convenience of a stroller. It not only restrains and transports children, but it can carry all your baby gear as well. As any big city mom can attest, life without a stroller would not be a life worth living… or something like that.

Since the beginning of time, really, babies have been transported in a number of ways. But where did it all start?

Turns out, before the 1700s you likely would’ve been carrying your baby on your hip. According to multiple sources on the net, including the thehistoryof.net, the idea of the stroller was invented by a man named William Kent. Kent was a well-known garden architect in England. In 1733, the Duke of Devonshire asked Kent to build a means of transportation that would amuse his children. Kent built a shell shaped basket on wheels that the children could sit in. It was pulled by a goat or small pony.

When other wealthy parents saw the contraption they commissioned someone to build them one. Still, these were considered status items, something the everyday parent could never afford.  These designs were modified in the next few years and when someone thought to add handles so parents could push their children Queen Victoria bought three carriages. That was the stroller’s big break.  After Queen Victoria bought them, anybody who was anybody had a baby carriage. The name is derived from the fact that a stroller originally looked like a miniature horse-drawn carriage.

The stroller quickly became a must-have item. Each year brought a fancy new model that only the wealthiest could afford. And so it is today… some of us purchase the simplest stroller on the market – as long as it has wheels, we’re good to go. But, just like Queen Victoria, the royals of our day (celebrities) have the top-of-the-line gear.

From Victoria to Victoria, here then is a look at the evolution of the stroller, from Queen Victoria’s model all the way to Victoria Beckham’s likely choice.

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The Evolution Of The Stroller [Photos]

The Wheels Are Set In Motion

"William Kent's invention to entertain the children of the Duke of Devonshire. A carriage that consisted of a wicker basket on wheels that was ornately decorated in accordance to the Duke’s status. As you can see by the harness, it was designed to be pulled by goats or small ponies.

I could not have written this post without The History of Strollers written by Garry Edwards, who I paraphrased several times in this piece.

 

Looking for something sporty or going for urban? Find yours at the Babble Best: Strollers!

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About Monica Bielanko

monica-bielanko

Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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42 thoughts on “The Evolution Of The Stroller [A Photographic History]

  1. GreenInOC says:

    Pretty cool! I actually see echos of the 1930′s designs in almost all of the designs that came later.

  2. Claudia says:

    This is truly fascinating, Monica. Thank you!

  3. Monica Bielanko says:

    Thanks guys! I was worried people wouldn’t think it as interesting as I do. I’m kind of a geek for history.

  4. Sarah Bouchard says:

    So even in the late 1800s, people were using strollers to push their yappy little dogs around.

    And here I thought this was a new phenomenon.

  5. goddess says:

    Interesting piece!

  6. Leslie says:

    This is a great article! I really enjoyed looking at all the different pictures. My mom actually used an older baby buggy when I was a baby. She bought it from a woman and we think it’s early 1900′s. We actually still have it and I’m going to use it as a decoration piece in my nursery for my little baby that is due in March.

  7. Jill says:

    Interesting article. And I thought Tori Spelling was the first person to push a dog in a stroller. Who knew?

  8. Jenny Rowland says:

    Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the piece! My company’s been studying moms and strollers recently and found that 1/3 of moms have experienced “Stroller Envy.” Definitely a fun testament to the modern mindset of moms and strollers (and the fact that there are $3,500 strollers out there). :) @tronemoms

  9. Sakinah says:

    Awesome article, Monica! I’m interested to find out who made the first double stroller now, too.

  10. MariY says:

    Loved this article! As a 70s baby myself, my parents seemed to be overwhelmed with style options. I have photos of myself in a huge classic 50s fabric style buggy, another in a flower power plastic stroller and finally one in a striped umbrella stroller.

  11. Grace says:

    Do you mean side by side double strollers? Because my mom had a front-to-back double stroller in the mid-80′s.

  12. Laura says:

    Next you should do car seats!

  13. Whatevs says:

    Interesting to see how carriages started out with the baby up high, then went super-low, and now seem to be trending toward high again. Monica, this was totally fascinating! I agree with Laura – do car seats next!

  14. GreenInOC says:

    If you do car seats next you’ll have to start with the floorboards!

  15. GreenInOC says:

    “1986 – Baby Jogger developed the first jogging stroller made for two children called The Twinner. The original Baby Jogger and Twinner models were both designed for serious runners, as the wheels were bolted on and neither had a folding mechanism. Over the next 10 years, various models of stroller were developed to accommodate different needs in the marketplace, including the Zipper, WalkAbout, FunAbout, Super Jogger, and Super Twinner.”
    http://www.babyjogger.com/about_us.aspx

  16. Casi says:

    LOVED this! Very cool to see how the baby products evolved.

  17. GreenInOC says:

    “The date of the original double stroller is unknown, but the device most likely came about in the late 19th century… Among the earliest references comes this one from an 1881 novel called What the Angels Saw on Christmas Eve, in which one character finds the entrance to his home “blocked by a double baby carriage” that had helped to convey a detachment of young visitors.”
    http://www.slate.com/slideshow/life/a-brief-history-of-the-double-stroller/#slide_1

  18. KP says:

    My mother had a side-by-side umbrella-style stroller in the late 80s. Nothing fancy, though, just the basic fold-able stroller x 2.

  19. amber says:

    Wow. Just wow. Those first few look like it would have been easier just to haul the child on your hip. They are so bulky. They must not have been used like we think, i mean they were just props for photos right? Lol. I think the ones from the fifties are the sweetest.

  20. Sarah says:

    I dont even have kids and I think this is cool…I love learning about new things…FYI they linked this article on Peoples Moms&Babies site…What What…we are not the only ones who thought this article was good stuff!! Keep it up :)

  21. NU says:

    Hey guys!!!
    I found a picture on ebay. A double stroller from the 50s
    Take a look
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/PHOTO-VINTAGE-TWIN-BABIES-DOUBLE-STROLLER-/290579228195

  22. gina says:

    This was fun. I love little baby buggie bumpers, and reading about the history of almost anything! Speaking of car seats, I saw a cartoony bumper sticker of a womb with a baby inside which read ” God’s Car Seat”.

  23. Monica Bielanko says:

    @Nu – That’s crazy! It almost looks home-made! I wish I had seen that so I could’ve incorporated somehow… Thanks for the link :)

  24. Liz Erickson says:

    Ok, I just stumbled across this and had to tell you how cool I think this is! In fact, I teach American history and I think you’ve just given me a great idea for a project- kids can create an evolution of any product/item of their choosing. Of course, someone’s bound to choose the paperclip or something of that nature, but then I’ll just bring out my “mean teacher voice” and squelch that nonsense. Thank you (and, of course, Garry Edwards)!

  25. gina says:

    My favorite guy 4ever’s last name is Kent. Middle, William. I love that name. SWK. Phillyboy Kent.

  26. Mimz says:

    My mom was a nanny for a set of twins who were born in 1986. They had a side by side double stroller. The brand name had love in it, possibly love bug(gy) but I’m not coming up with anything on google. I know there was a heart in the logo. It was grey and was just a double of standard 80′s “padded” strollers. It fit through most doorways. I was a teen then and I walked many a mile with those babies who are now grown men. :)

  27. Lisa says:

    Great job-learned a lot. But I’d still like to know why larger kids who are perfectly capable of walking are being carted around in strollers. (I am not a mom but have done my fair share of babysitting.) I’m talking 5, 6, 7 year olds here.

  28. Donna says:

    Good work, Moncia. Interesting.

  29. gin says:

    Super interesting article – I love me some history. Also, loved the Pearl Jam reference on your personal blog!!!

  30. Kristen Jones says:

    Awesome post! Loved reading about the history. I thought mine was expensive @ $350! I can’t believe someone would pay thousands of dollars for a stroller. But, then again, expensive is relative

  31. Anon says:

    @ LISA, great question…I wanna know, too. Last week we went to the zoo and I saw this all over the place. I admit, I am a stroller hater for most kids except w/in a very small window of time that they are too heavy to carry in a carrier and too small to walk all that much on their own…maybe between 15-18 months and 2.5 in my kid’s case. I think parents need to get their kiddoes walking and walking alot early on. They should be able to walk a mile for every year of their age by 4. It takes some urging and training, but you have to start somewhere.

  32. alissa says:

    What if the seven-year-old in the stroller is autistic and doesn’t do well in large social situations? What if the big five-year-old just sprained his ankle? Worry about your own children.

  33. meme says:

    My mom saved my pram from 1965 and we are looking for someone to fix it up. Any ideas where in NYC area I can get my pram restored?

  34. Jessica says:

    Great work! This was so interesting. My grandmother has pictures from her stroller in the 1930s, and my moms in the 50s, so they will love reading the history when I show them this article!

    On the other subject, I’m that mom whose 5 yr old is in the stroller. Wanna know why? Because he has a 3 yr old little sister and when we’ve been at the zoo for 5-6 hours their legs get tired. They spend much of the day running between exhibits, while we store our bag of lunch and snacks in the stroller. But at the end of the day when they are tired I’d much rather push them from the zoo in a comfortable stroller than carry a 40 pound 5 year old and a 30 pound 3 year old. They play sports and are active, not lazy, but they are little kids! Parents face enough hard issues, lets not judge each other of this too!

  35. Tanya Gonsalves says:

    Hi Monica, I came across this article on Qureka, (http://bit.ly/evloution-of-stroller) a website that enables discovery of people and information of similar interests. I am a history junkie too and loved reading this article :)

  36. goldie says:

    my mom had a double stroller in the 80′s… I’ll try to find out more. basicaslly it was a single with a toddler seat in the front or back…

  37. Mrs_JennyK says:

    It must have taken you forever to put that together. It was a lot of fun to travel through the years with prams.

  38. HeartFelt 4 Kids says:

    I really enjoyed this article and pics…love history…and what great props old carriages make!

  39. gamma says:

    Great article! Love strollers and their history! I do believe the navy pram listed as 1950′s is actually a 1970′s pram made by Perego.

  40. christine brown says:

    talk about older strollers my dad has an old one i couldnt even tell you year or era . and i still have my oldest daughters fom 1995 it goes from stroller to a carriage.

  41. Geraldine T. says:

    Great article, you can check Maclaren history on Facebook with other nice pictures: like the first umbrella stroller the B-01 invented in 1967, a pram from 1976, a double stroller in 1982 http://www.facebook.com/Maclarenbaby

    I can also send you original pictures if needed!

  42. Mrs. Kate says:

    Nice photographic history of baby stroller thanks for the story.

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