Saturday, May 11, 2013

Adirondack Chairs and Class

Recently, we discussed the interpretation of social class and landscape. One marker as noted by Doc OC was the "Adirondack chair." I'm quite familiar with these chairs as the camp I went to (in Maine for countless summers) was abundant with them; They were seemingly sprinkled up and down most lush, green hills on campus.  For those who are unfamiliar with the Adirondack chair Wikipedia describes it as, "a simple rustic wooden chair for outdoor use. In the original design it was made with 11 flat wooden boards, with a straight back and seat. It also features wide armrests."

It is also said to be the perfect "leisure" chair, becoming increasingly popular at parks, caf├ęs, etc. The chair itself is a marker of social class. Where you find well kept grass in a beautiful park or large green area, you may find yourself a fleet of Adirondacks to relax in. It would be shocking to find people lounging in Adirondack chairs in urban areas. Even World Market, a high end specialty import store, notes the elegance of these lounge chairs.  Under the chair reads a tag entitled, "Why We Love It" where World Market provides the description of the chair: "A signature silhouette of outdoor living, our Antique-White Classic Adirondack Chair's wide, slanted seat invites endless relaxation. Built for comfort, this chair provides a timeless look ideal for bringing classic design sensibility to your favorite outdoor hangout."

While providing a homey, summery feel, these chairs appeal to upper class individuals who want to relax in the sun, or just make their lawns more visually appealing. Recently, my sister (student at Trinity College) told me that her school decided to add Adirondacks to the campus' main quad.  The chairs add "charm" to the campus' already greenery that costs tremendous amounts of money to maintain. The article adds that the chairs have been a " huge hit on campus this spring. Students take advantage of this ideal lounge location from morning till night, moving the chairs around the quad to best suit the angle of the sun and the size of their group. As the semester draws to a close, the Adirondack chairs provide a peaceful setting for students to study, work in groups, socialize, or unwind after a long day." This reminded me of Fitzgerald's  The Great Gatsby when Jay Gatsby's "over fourty acres of lawn and garden"(5) was described with pristine and rich. It was believed that Gatsby had countless varieties of beautiful, blooming flowers in his garden brought in from all around the world. This speaks directly to the relationship between class and landscape.  Gatsby as well as much of the high class values beautiful and immense gardens and the flux of the adirondack chairs on the North Shore especially parallels this.  Why is it that an adirondack chair wouldn't likely be found in a lower income area? Also, please consider why our society values prestige of landscape?  Please compare these findings with our trip to the Kenilworth Beach. 

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