As a roller coaster enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by amusement parks, especially the ones that only exist from memory. Many times I’ve come across stories or pictures of amusement parks that no longer exist, and I’ve often thought of doing some articles on the topic. I was recently offered up a story idea from fellow AC Contributor Shelly Barclay, who’d seen some photos online of abandoned parks. She suggested I’d be a good person to do such a story and it was the spark I needed to delve into the subject.
I began to research the topic and found that there a great many amusement parks all over the world that no longer operate. Many have completely vanished, and some still lie in their deteriorating state, empty and eerie reminders of former days of glory.
Parks such as New Jersey’s Palisades Park and the Bronx’s Freedomland are gone without a trace, replaced by new redevelopment projects. Others, like Six Flags New Orleans and Chippewa Lake Park in Ohio have left behind artifacts of a bygone era, abandoned for a variety of reasons and left to deteriorate on their own. These places were an integral part of the cultural fabric of the United States during the 20th Century, and represent the simpler, happy times spent with family and friends during the heyday of amusement parks.
During the first decades of the 1900’s, literally hundreds of amusement parks sprouted up across the country. Weekends were spent at such magical places as Idora Park in Oakland, California or Riverview Park in Chicago, Illinois. With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930’s and with the ensuing mass migration to the suburbs following World War II, amusement parks were no longer a common place to spend time. Many parks closed their gates, eventually to be replaced by the fewer, yet larger theme parks of today.
Stay tuned to this page for stories on some of the old amusement parks of yesteryear. Perhaps some of them you’ll remember from your own experiences. Others make for interesting stories of grand old places that were a major source of entertainment for so many for so long.
To see some photos of abandoned amusement parks from around the world, please click here and here.
For more articles on amusement parks and thrill rides, see Collected Works: Roller Coasters.
To read a little history of the amusement parks of Coney Island and its new Luna Park, click here.