July 31, 2010
For Your Amusement, The Other White City
If you have enjoyed yourself at one of the thousands of amusement parks around the country, you have Chicago's Columbian Exposition to thank. While rooted in the European fairs, Chicago's 1893 extravaganza is often considered the precursor of the modern American amusement park; the first to have a Ferris wheel, concessions, the beginning of the roller coaster (Thomas Rankin's Snow and Ice Railway) and numerous midway attractions (Midway Plaisance).
Following closely on the heals of the Chicago World's Fair was the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. And while amusement parks had been popular diversions, now their popularity really began to pick up and dozens of parks bearing the name "White City" as a homage to the Columbian Exposition, were constructed around the country. And, as you would expect, the doors opened on Chicago's own White City Amusement Park in 1905 located at 63rd & South Park on Chicago's south side. (For a transcription of the Chicago Herald's take on Opening Day, see "White City Is Opened.")
Known for its dazzling Electric Tower and thousands of blazing lights the Chicago White City was a huge success for many years. It was, however, haunted by the Wingfoot Air Disaster of July 21, 1919 when a blimp carry passengers from Grant Park to the amusement park crashed into the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank.
White City was successful for many years, enjoying its heyday until about 1934 when the Great Depression severely limited the public's entertainment spending. Parts of the park would remain open until the 1950s.
For a detailed look at Chicago's White City Amusement Park, please see Jazz Age Chicago.
Amusement Parks (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
The "White City" and the American Dream – 100 Years of Amusement Parks
Amusement Park Books List
Entrance and aerial view of the park (Chuckman Chicago Nostalgia)
Electric Tower( Penny Postcards from Illinois) Some great postcards of the park!