Friday, November 10, 2017

The City of Dreams ...

They called it the city of dreams, a series of white stucco buildings that surrounded a pool of glistening water. As the sun rose above the sky,  the buildings would be illuminated in hues of peach, gold, and lavender. The real magic was at night when all the buildings would be lit up with tiny shimmering lights. Those that visited the city marveled at the sight and relished at the chance to stroll in the kingdom fit to be nestled among the stars.
This was the World Colombian Exhibition of 1893, or more commonly known as the Chicago World’s Fair. America’s first chance to show that it could be just as grand and innovative as the old world cities of London and Paris, the fair hosted two prominent attractions, the Court of Honor and the entertainment district known as the Midway Plaisance.
The Court of Honor (pictured above) hosted a series of neoclassical styled buildings that came to be known as White City because of  their cream colouring and the thousands of light bulbs that adorned each building at night.
Western entrance to the Midway Plaisance
The Midway was an area for amusement, where spectators could casually catch a ride in a hot air balloon, watch a sideshow, or view the fair in all of its entirety in a new invention called a Ferris wheel.
The original Ferris Wheel (1893) 
The fair’s main attraction was the world’s first Ferris Wheel, the exposition’s tallest structure, intended “to out-Eiffel Eiffel”, a reference to a campaign to come up with a structure that could outshine the Eiffel Tower of the 1889 Paris Exhibition. Whether it succeeded or not, the Ferris wheel allowed visitors to experience the fair in a whole new light and inspired many more amusement devices.
 Entrance to Chicago's White City Amusement Park@Chicagology
In just a decade, imitations of Chicago’s White City began to spring up across the country. These amusement spectacles included their very own Ferris wheels, scaled down versions of the Court of Honor, and thrill rides such as shoot-the-chutes and roller coasters. Locals would visit these parks to experience a piece of wonderland. The modern day amusement park was born.
Circus at Chicago's White City Amusement Park

The Midway at Chicago's White City Amusement Park
Strolling past the Casino at the White City Amusement Park, 63rd and South Parkway Ave

The figure of King Dodo at White City Amusement Park in Massachusetts
 Louisville, Kentucky's White City Amusement Park (1910)

Many of these amusement parks named themselves after the White City, but names such as Electric or Luna were also quite common. Railway companies began to notice that these parks drove a crowd and decided to build parks of their own to increase ridership during the weekends. These amusement parks played a key role in the shift of social attitudes during the turn of the century.
The most well known of these new amusement parks resided on Coney Island. Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, and Dreamland became the standard for other amusement parks, becoming a common sight across the country and even making their way across the channel to England
 Luna Park, Coney Island, New York
Dreamland at Night, Coney Island, New York

 The Chutes Park in San Francisco, California
But of course, paradise never lasts forever and by the end of the 1920s, many of these amusement parks had become a distant memory. White City amusement parks were in fact giant fire hazards, and many of them were entirely destroyed, just like the original White City buildings built for the Chicago’s Worlds fair. These fires were ruthless and destroyed so much property that it made rebuilding impossible.
 The burning buildings of the Chicago World's Fair
 The changing of the times also played a role in the demise of these parks. As automobiles began to gain favour, the public suddenly had more choice for how to spend their leisure time. The parks that survived to the middle of the 20th century struggled to remain profitable as visitors tastes in amusement parks changed.
 Electric City Park, Detroit, Wisconsin
Today, only one park that was given the White City name continues to operate. Denver’s White City opened in 1908 and has managed to outlast even the most well-known amusement parks that existed.
The park still features it’s original stucco buildings and even carries on the tradition of lighting the buildings with thousands of light bulbs each evening.
One of Lakeside's original rides, The Tickler
The park has gone through many updates over time, including a name to change to “Lakeside”. Visitors who come to the park have the pleasure of seeing different architectural eras such as art deco, streamline moderne, and the original beaux-arts architecture that the original White City was known for.
 An example of one of the many updates the park made.
If you wish to get a taste of what a White City amusement park was like, you can visit Lakeside Amusement Park (formerly White City) during the summer and spring months. If you’re more eastbound, there is of course the nostalgia of Coney Island, hanging on by blending mom-and-pop concessions with contemporary attractions to preserve the memory of the amusement parks from the past.

Feeling nostalgic? Now, go make something beautiful!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)(¸.•´
(¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥

Be sure to visit all the other participants of Beverly's Pink Saturday Blog Hop! Lots of wonderful photos and fun stories. Click the link to see all the blogs you can visit!

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Brooklyn, New York - 2017


JP Bloch said...

Imagine if they made a purple city, you'd be in heaven.

xinex said...

What a pleasure to see these awesome vintage pictures! Thanks for sharing them....Christine

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

My Dear Tristan,
O My!! How you flatter me!! THANK YOU so much for your sweet and kind words about my little town house. I live in Wilkes Barre, near Scranton. I have been to Jim Thorpe many times but not lately because visiting there includes a lot of walking and I can not walk any distance. I am in need of a knee replacement that I still need to put off for 2 more years until I an retire. Then I plan on crossing off an item on my Bucket list. I would like to go to Jim Thorpe, stay in the Inn for 2-3 nights during there Olde Time Christmas Celebration!! I have always wanted to do that!!
I so wish you lived closer because I would love to have you over for coffee!!
Since I can not travel far due to various other health issues, I decided to make my house into the type of Victorian Bed and Breakfast that I would love to stay in. Now I feel like I am always on vacation whenever I step foot in my front door.....
Thanks again for your kind words!! It is because of people like you that I still keep blogging.
If you are ever back in Pa., PLEASE let me know so we could get together!!!! If you are on Face Book, send me a friend request so you can also follow me there.My FB page is private so you would need to send a friend request.

Curtains in My Tree said...

Thank you so much for your comment on my Mackenzie CHilds newest items. I would love to see your MOms room full of Mckenzie childs furniture.
I really like your blog and will be back.
I also like the mermaids on Coney Island haha my friends in New York said they spent their younger years there


peggy gatto said...

Another interesting bit of history!

Jackie PN said...

What a fabulous post!!! You always offer such great topics Tristan- thank you so much!
There was once a White City park just 3 miles from where i grew up

My former husband and I canoed the shoreline for relics..we saw the remains of piers in the water and found pieces of ginger beer bottles and broken pieces of the service ware from Syracuse China.
Thanks so much for your share!

Oliva Ohlson said...

Beautiful vintage photos. I'm especially drawn to the burning Chicago World's Fair. My late mother-in-law was there and we have pictures of her there!
Thank you so much for stopping by and giving me super nice I'm happy with my pinkish wreath...I'm so happy to have discovered your amazing blog!

Dr. Elise Ho said...

What fun this was to read and look through. I love learning different things about history.