Nearly everyone can recall a favorite amusement park from their youth but if you lived in Chicago before 1967, there’s a good chance the Riverview Amusement Park was yours.
Riverview is still remembered fondly by many Chicago parents and grandparents alike who visited in their youth. Touted as “One of the Greatest Amusement Parks in the World”, Riverview Park had little competition in the Chicago area with rides and attractions spreading across 74 acres.
Owned by the Schmidt family, Riverview Amusement Park originally began as a sharpshooting range and picnic grounds in the late 1800’s. To draw more visitors, rides and attractions were added starting in 1904. In 1908 a beautiful, hand carved, 70-horse carousel become the park highlight.
Located on Chicago’s northside, Riverview was bordered on the south by Belmont Avenue, east by Western Avenue, north by Lane Tech High School and on the west by the north branch of the Chicago River, an area commonly known as ‘North Center’.
While visitors enjoyed a wide range of rides and attractions, the park became best known for ‘The Bobs’ – an 11 car roller coaster with an 85′ drop. Constructed in 1926 for $80,000, it carried 1,200 passengers per hour and drew some 700,000 riders each season.
Other popular rides included: The Comet, Silver Flash, Fireball, Jetstream, Shoot the Chutes, Hades, the Rotor, Tilt-a-Whirl, Wild Mouse, and The Tunnel of Love. For those looking for a little less adventure the ballroom, often filled with jazz and German music, and roller rink offered an evening of fun.
In 1967 the Schmidt family, along with other investors, decided to close Riverview Park. While most of the rides were scrapped, the beautiful hand carved carousel continues to operate at Six Flags Over Georgia. Despite it’s closing, Riverview Amusement Park continues to live on in the memories and stories of many Chicagoans.
If your parents or grandparents grew up in Chicago, be sure to ask them what they remember about Riverview Amusement Park. Without a doubt your questions will elicit fond memories as they recall the visits in their youth.
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