Trolley park

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In Britain, a "trolley park" is a holding area for supermarket trolleys (called shopping carts in the U.S.).
1910, Idora Park, Oakland, California at the end of the trolley line.

In the United States, trolley parks, which started in the 19th century, were picnic and recreation areas along or at the ends of streetcar lines in most of the larger cities. These were precursors to amusement parks. These trolley parks were created by the streetcar companies to give people a reason to use their services on weekends.[1] These parks originally consisted of picnic groves and pavilions, and often held events such as dances, concerts and fireworks. Many eventually added features such as swimming pools, carousels, Ferris wheels, roller coasters, sports fields, boats rides, restaurants and other resort facilities to become amusement parks. Various sources report the existence of between 1,500 and 2,000 amusement parks in the United States by 1919.[2]

Coney Island[edit]

One such location was Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York where a horse drawn street car line brought pleasure seekers to the beach beginning in 1829. In 1875, a million passengers rode the Coney Island Railroad, and in 1876 two million reached Coney Island. Hotels and amusements were built to accommodate both the upper-classes and the working-class. The first carousel was installed in the 1870s, the first "Switchback Railway" in 1881. It wasn't till 1895 that the first permanent amusement park in North America opened: Sea Lion Park at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. This park was one of the first to charge admission to get into the park in addition to sell tickets for rides within the park.[2]

In 1897, it was joined by Steeplechase Park, the first of three major amusement parks that would open in the area. George Tilyou designed the park to provide thrills and sweep away the restraints of the Victorian crowds. The combination of the nearby population center of New York City and the ease of access to the area made Coney Island the embodiment of the American amusement park.[2] Often, it is Steeplechase Park that comes to mind when one generically thinks of the heyday of Coney Island, but there was also Luna Park (opened in 1903), and Dreamland (opened in 1904). Coney Island was a huge success, and by 1910 attendance on a Sunday could reach a million people.[2]

Trolley parks decline[edit]

The Jack Rabbit Derby Racer at Ramona Park, a trolley park in East Grand Rapids, MI. The park closed in 1955.

By the early 20th century, there were hundreds of amusement parks, many of them starting as trolley parks, in operation around the USA. Every major city boasted one or more parks, often based on (or named) Coney Island, Luna Park, Dreamland. This began the era of the “golden age” of amusement parks that reigned until the late 1920s. This was an era when the number of hours worked was reduced, while the amount of disposable income was rising. The amusement parks reflected the mechanization and efficiency of industrialization while serving as source of fantasy and escape from real life.[2]

With the increasing number of automobiles in use, urban trolley parks gradually declined due to lack of parking and changing demographics in the urban areas. Although the automobile provided people with more options for satisfying their entertainment needs, amusement parks that were accessible by car continued to be successful and new parks were developed. It was urban trolley parks that saw declining attendance. By the end of the 1920s, amusement parks were to suffer steep declines for various reasons, particularly the Great Depression.[2]

List of trolley parks still operating[edit]

In alphabetical order, followed by the year in which they opened

Bushkill Park, in Easton, Pennsylvania,[8] has been closed since 2006 and its operating schedule is still in limbo though there are no current plans to close the park permanently. It opened in 1902.

List of trolley parks now closed[edit]

Roller coasters of Palisades Amusement Park are visible atop the Palisades, as seen from the trolley terminal in Edgewater, New Jersey in the early 20th century

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Harpaz, Beth J. (July 21, 2010). "Survivors of earlier era: 11 beloved trolley parks". Associated Press via The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Judith A. (1991). The American Amusement Park Industry: A History of Technology and Thrills. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-9821-8. 
  3. ^ Camden Park website
  4. ^ CanobieLakePark.com
  5. ^ Seed, Douglas, & Khalife, Katherine (1996). Salem, NH. Volume II—Trolleys, Canobie Lake, and Rockingham Park, Images Of America. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-0438-5.
  6. ^ midway-park.com
  7. ^ Quassy.com
  8. ^ BushkillPark.com
  9. ^ concord.nh.us
  10. ^ Reynolds, Rick. "An Amusement Park on Ballston Lake?". Retrieved July 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ Don King. "Narrative: Montoursville's history presented by chapter". Christopher Garneau. Archived from the original on 2006-12-09. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  12. ^ Delaware and Hudson Company (1901). Seventy-second Annual report of the Delaware and Hudson Company. p. 56. 
  13. ^ Delaware and Hudson Company (1901). Seventy-second Annual report of the Delaware and Hudson Company. p. 56. 
  14. ^ RCDB.com
  15. ^ southernspaces.org
  16. ^ "Coasting to a stop at Whalom Park", The Boston Globe (Boston, MA), October 19, 2006, Jenna Russell

External links[edit]