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.
To this day, Riverview is still fondly remembered by many Chicago parents and grandparents alike. Touted as “One of the Greatest Amusement Parks in the World”, Riverview Park had little competition in the area, with rides and attractions spreading across 74 acres.
Riverview Amusement Park, owned by a wealthy German family, the Schmidts, originally began as a sharpshooting range and picnic grounds in the late 1800’s. To draw more visitors, it was decided to turn the land into an amusement pak and starting in 1904, rides and attractions were added.
In 1905, 50 new acres were added along with new attractions such as a dance pavilion, animal farm and several rides such as the White Flyer Roller Coaster and Double Wheel Ferris Wheel. In 1908 they even staged a re-creation of the civil way naval battle of Monitor and Merrimack in the Marine Causeway. Also 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. Today this area is 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.
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