Starlight Park

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Starlight Park
Starlight Park.png
Bathers at the Cascade in Starlight Park, 1921.
LocationBronx, New York, United States
Coordinates40°50′13″N 73°52′44″W / 40.837°N 73.879°W / 40.837; -73.879Coordinates: 40°50′13″N 73°52′44″W / 40.837°N 73.879°W / 40.837; -73.879
ThemeAmusement park
Opened1918
Closed1932
Previous namesExposition Park (during the 1918 Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries)

Starlight Park was an American amusement park located near West Farms Square in the Bronx, New York, east of the Bronx River. It operated from 1918 to 1932.[1][2]

Starlight Park was originally built for the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries, which was hosted in 1918, and as such the park was known as Exposition Park during that time. During its heyday, Starlight Park featured various amusement rides, as well as the Bronx Coliseum and the submarine Holland. The site is now occupied by a MTA Regional Bus Operations bus depot and a public park of the same name.

Description[edit]

The park featured fireworks displays, a roller coaster, a swimming pool, and carnival games of skill and chance.[3] It also contained a stadium which was the home field of the New York Giants soccer team, but which also featured circuses, boxing and professional wrestling matches, and "midget auto racing". The 15,000-seat stadium came to be called the New York Coliseum (no relation to the building with the same name at Columbus Circle in Manhattan). The stadium was originally built for the 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was transported to 177th Street and Devoe Avenue in the Bronx in 1928.[4]

The park was also home of the studios of radio station WBNX until the park's closure forced the station to relocate.[5]

History[edit]

When Starlight Park originally opened in 1917, it was called Exposition Park. The grounds were originally laid out from 1917 to 1918 for the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries in 1918.[3] The park was renamed shortly after the exposition's close.[1]

The first summer music festival in Starlight Park was hosted in 1921.[6] Starting in 1926, the park offered free programs of opera music in the summer, in an attempt to give the masses access to high culture at no cost. The shows were given in the open air until the Starlight Park Stadium was erected in 1928, and occurred in the stadium afterwards.[4] On Saturday nights, big-band jazz played for dancers on an outdoor dance floor. In its time, it was considered something of a "blue collar country club".[7]

For many years, one of the park's most popular attractions was the submarine Holland. After being constructed by Irish-American inventor John Philip Holland in 1888, the Holland became the first submarine commissioned by the United States Navy. She had been maintained by the navy at Norfolk, Virginia, for training purposes until 1914, when she became a museum ship in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey. The submarine then moved to Starlight Park in 1918 and remained there until 1932, when she was disassembled for scrap as part of the entire park's demolition.[3]

In 1922, a roller-coaster accident killed one rider.[8]

The park was closed in 1937 after going bankrupt. The United States Army took over the site between 1942 and 1946.[9] In 1947, the stucco and wood bathing pavilion was destroyed by a fire.[10]

Modern usage[edit]

Pedestrian bridge in unopened section of public park
Boat dock on reopening day

The northeastern part of the site became the West Farms Depot of MTA Regional Bus Operations.[9]

A city park, operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was built in the late 1950s as part of the construction of the Sheridan Expressway. The highway was built parallel to the Bronx River on the former site of Starlight Park, which had been condemned to provide the right-of-way for both the Sheridan and Cross Bronx Expressways. As part of the project, a city park with the same name was created in its place, east of the expressway.[11][12][13] The city park comprised land west and south of the original site of the amusement park, along both banks of the river.

In the 1990s, after Youth Ministries had made the state aware of pollution on the Bronx River, the New York state government started to clean up the river. Cleanup efforts were delayed when chemicals from an old gas plant at the site were discovered in 2003. As part of the plan to clean up the pollution, the New York State Department of Transportation agreed to rebuild the park and connect it to the Bronx River Greenway, a proposed waterfront path along the Bronx River.[14] In 2013, after a 10-year renovation that cost $18 million, NYC Parks reopened a 13-acre (5.3 ha) section of the public park.[15][16] Another 11-acre (4.5 ha) segment remained closed because of a disagreement with Amtrak, who owned the Northeast Corridor railroad tracks on the park's eastern edge.[14] A $13 million environmentally-friendly headquarters for the Bronx River Alliance, described in The New York Times as "the greenest building in the South Bronx", opened within the park in 2016.[17]

In 2017, an expansion of the new Starlight Park was announced. As part of this expansion, parts of the park would undergo environmental cleanups. The Phase 2 project would also connect Starlight Park to Concrete Plant Park south of Westchester Avenue via new bridges across the Bronx River and the Northeast Corridor.[15] This coincided with another plan to downgrade Sheridan Expressway to a street-level boulevard so that the surrounding community could more easily access Starlight Park.[18] As of 2017, the park was only accessible via the East 174th Street bridge that crosses both the expressway and the Bronx River. The project is expected to improve pedestrian safety and access to both Starlight Park and the Bronx River shoreline.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Futrell, Jim (2006). Amusement Parks of New York (via Google Books). Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0-811-73262-8. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  2. ^ Ultan, Lloyd ; Unger, Barbara (2000). Bronx Accent – A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough (via Google Books). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-813-52863-2. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c McNamara, John (1984). History in Asphalt – The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City (via Google Books). The Bronx, New York: Bronx County Historical Society. pp. 287, 314, 397–398. ISBN 978-0-941-98016-6. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Twomey, Bill (2007). The Bronx – In Bits and Pieces (via Google Books). Bloomington, Indiana: Rooftop Publishing. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-1-600-08062-3. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  5. ^ Ultan, Lloyd ; written in collaboration with the Bronx County Historical Society (1979). The Beautiful Bronx (1920-1950) (print). New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House Publishers. p. 34. ISBN 0-87000-439-5.
  6. ^ "MUSIC FESTIVAL IN BRONX.; Russian Symphony Orchestra Gives First Concert in Starlight Park". The New York Times. July 24, 1921. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Dunford, Judith (August 13, 1995). "Remembrances of a War's End – The Real Starlight Park" (letter to editor). The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  8. ^ Staff (May 23, 1922). "Sifts Coaster Accident – District Attorney Seeks Two Workers at Starlight Park" (PDF). The New York Times. p. 36. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Valentino, Elisa (July 12, 2018). "WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – Starlight Park: A Century of Bronx History – Part 2". This Is The Bronx. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "2-Alarm Fire in Starlight Park" (headline abstract only). The New York Times. October 23, 1947. p. 27. Retrieved November 12, 2008.
  11. ^ "Starlight Park: History". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  12. ^ "Chapter 2: Greenway Route from South to North" (PDF). Bronx River Greenway Strategic Plan. Bronx River Alliance. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  13. ^ "Photo Report on Progress of Cross Bronx Expressway" (PDF). New York Post. April 30, 1950. Retrieved February 27, 2017 – via Fultonhistory.com.
  14. ^ a b Wall, Patrick (May 13, 2013). "Starlight Park Officially Reopens, But Remains Disconnected to Greenway". DNAinfo New York. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Starlight Park will undergo a major transformation as part of the $40 million Bronx River Greenway project". Bronx Times. May 12, 2017. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "Starlight Park Opens With A Community Celebration, On Land And On Water". Starlight Park News. NYC Parks. May 10, 2013. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  17. ^ "The Greenest Building in the South Bronx". The New York Times. July 10, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  18. ^ Sheridan Blvd Overall Plan. governor.ny.gov. New York State Department of Transportation. 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  19. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (March 19, 2017). "Cuomo Plots Demise of Bronx's Unloved Sheridan Expressway". The New York Times. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  20. ^ Durkin, Erin (March 19, 2017). "Cuomo announces Sheridan Expressway to be demolished in favor of pedestrian boulevard in the Bronx". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
  • Gottlock, Barbara and Wesley. Lost Amusement Parks of New York City. History Press (2013). pp. 91–106.

External links[edit]