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65 Photos of New York City's Long Lost Amusement Parks

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Coney Island is known as New York's epicenter for summer thrills and stomach-dropping rides, but there was a time when every borough had an amusement park (or three) to call its own. We culled the photo archives to find some 65 photos of historic amusement parks that are no more. A few relics remain in Coney, but most of these roller coaster, cotton candy-filled lands are long gone. Know of one we missed? Leave a comment or send a note to the tipline. UPDATE: Freedomland has been added?can't believe we forgot that one!

· Clason Point Park
Location: Clason Point, the Bronx
Dates: late 1880s to 1930s ?
We couldn't pin down the dates for this park, but it is best known for its giant swimming pool that used water straight from the East River. It was so dark and dirty, it was known as "the inkwell. The park made headlines in 1922 when a storm with 75 mph winds knocked over the ferris wheel and killed eight people.

[Photo via ArchiTakes]

· Fort George
Location: Washington Heights, Manhattan
Dates: 1895 to 1914
This park was located off the Harlem River, near the Highbridge. It had a toboggan slide, ferris wheel and two music halls, among other attractions.

· Gala Amusement Park
Location: East Elmhurst, Queens
Dates: 1890s to 1920s
LaGuardia Airport sits on the land that used to be Gala Amusement Park. Built and operated by the Steinway family (probably in the late 1890s, but we couldn't find any start date), the park closed in the mid-1920s. The land was turned into an airfield, which later became the airport we all know and hate. The park was also known as North Beach.

· Steeplechase Park
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn
Dates: 1897 to 1964
Steeplechase was Coney Island's longest-running amusement park. A variety of factors lead to its closure (Wikipedia has a nice summary of the history), and today the only remaining structure is the parachute jump, which just got an LED makeover.

· Playland
Location: Rockaway, Queens
Dates: 1902 to 1985
Playland lasted on the Rockaway boardwalk for a long time, but it was torn down in the late 1980s to make way for a housing development. It's last season was 1985; according to a 1987 article in the Times, it never reopened because the owner could not afford the liability insurance premiums.

· Luna Park (the original!)
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn
Dates: 1903 to 1944
The original Luna Park was known for its fanciful architecture that was illuminated at night with thousands of electric lamps. In 1905, singer Billy Murray recorded a song to promote the park: We'll take a trip up to the moon/ For that is the place for a lark/ So meet me down at Luna, Lena/ Down at Luna Park

· Dreamland
Location: Coney Island, Brooklyn
Dates: 1904 to 1911
Dreamland contained most of Coney's freak shows and faux landscapes, including "a Swiss alpine landscape, imitation Venetian canals with gondolas, a 'Lilliputian Village' with three hundred dwarf inhabitants."

· Happyland
Location: South Beach, Staten Island
Dates: 1906 to 1935
All photos undated via NYPL
When the park opened in 1906, Variety wrote, "The center space is given over to a small artificial lake in which the water will operate a monster circular swing and the band stand. Carl Von Wegwin's band of twenty-five pieces will give free concerts here." Admission cost 10 cents, and all of the rides were free.

· Golden City
Location: Carnarsie, Brooklyn
Dates: 1907 to 1939

· Starlight Park
Location: The Bronx
Dates: 1918 to 1932.
The Bronx's answer to Coney Island, Starlight Park had a giant swimming pool, sandy "beach," a picnic grove, roller coaster, and a 15,000-seat stadium that hosted the circus, soccer matches, and other events. In 1940, a fire burned down the bathing pavilions and the property fell into disuse. Recently, it was revitalized and reopened as part of the Bronx River Greenway.

· Adventurer's Inn, photos by Bill Brent
Location: Flushing, Queens
Dates: mid-1950s to late 1970s
We couldn't find many photos of this park in operation, but this site has a great collection of photos from just before the place was demolished.

· Freedomland
Location: Baychester, Bronx
Dates: 1960 to 1964
Failing to make a profit, this history-themed park closed after just four years. The rides and attractions at this 85-acre park centered around American history. You could ride a steamboat, see a cowboy fight, or visit a wild west ghost town. Recently, Narritively published a detailed account of the park written by a man whose grandfather worked in Freedomland as a costumed cowboy?it's definitely worth a read. Today, Co-op City occupies this same site. Photos below via Freedomlandusa.net.

· Astroland
Location: Coney Island
Dates: 1962 to 2008
Astroland was envisioned as a space age theme park, and parts of it?most notably the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel?still exist today in the new Luna Park. UPDATE: We were mistaken when we said the Wonder Wheel was part of Astroland, and it is not part of Luna Park today. Reps for the wheel sent along the following email: "Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Co., the landmark Wonder Wheel is the centerpiece of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, a family owned and operated park featuring 21 rides, arcades, games, live entertainment, music and historical exhibits by the Coney Island History Project. The park also has Coney's last vintage dark ride, Spook-A-Rama and "Grandma's Predictions," a rare 90-year old antique fortune telling machine. Both were recently restored at great expense after Superstorm Sandy." The Cyclone, also, was not built for Astroland. It existed before and was adopted by the operators of Astroland.

[Photo via Wikipedia]