1904 - 1967 64 Years of Pure Fun Just Magic!
Riverview's Motto was "Laugh Your Troubles away." Billed as the World's Greatest and Largest Amusement Park in its time. In the late 1800's Wilhelm Schmidt opened a German sharpshooter park and picnic grove. The Schmidt family install some swings, rides and a dance hall for the ladies and kids that was an instant success Riverview Park was born in the first week of July, 1904. Wilhelm's son George began to expand the park with ideas he picked up in Europe and the Worlds Fair in Chicago. I Was very young when I saw the 70 - Horse Carousel "The Merry - Go - Round." It was a piece of art hand carved and painted by a group of Swiss and Italian craftsmen installed in 1908. I'm glad to say this ride is still in use at Six - Flags in Atlanta Georgia. I would love to see it again.
In the winter months of the early 1900's a ballroom and roller rink were added for entertainment. The Roaring Twenties had an effect on Riverview in a positive way ie. profitable. During Prohibition beer drinking patrons found a continuing flow of beer.
This gave the Schmidt family the money needed to add rides and expand the park.
Chicago's Mayor "Big Bill Thompson" in the 1920's sponsored free children's day at Riverview Park he would pay the streetcar fare during the summer.
In 1926 "The Bobs" was added an 11 - Car Roller Coaster with an 85 foot drop. The most fearsome Roller Coaster in America at the time, it was the fastest on record. The Bobs carried 1,200 passengers per hour it drew over 700,000 rides each season. The Bobs was the most popular ride throughout Riverviews Park existence.
The 1930's depression hit Riverview Park very hard, as it did most of the entertainment industries. A devastating fire burned down the fun house and the "Derby Racing Coaster." Even in these hard times Chicagoans continued to go to Riverview Park.
George Schmidt introduces the foot long hot dog. Most visitors opted to eat at the Bowery in Riverview than outside restaurants during the depression years. The foot long hot dog was born and George Schmidt called the foot long dog filling and inexpensive. The 1930's also brought Riverview's Motto "Laugh Your Troubles Away".
The 1940's brought more changes to Riverview after World War 11 Riverview became a very popular place for returning servicemen and women. We baby boomers from the 1940's and 1950's have increased prosperity to Riverview Park. Families had more kids that enjoyed Riverview Park in the 1950's. During the 1950's a coupe that met at Riverview Park were married on the "Pair - O - Chutes". All ethnic backgrounds enjoyed Riverview Park together. Times were changing the number of amusement parks in America in the late 1940's was about 425 by the late 1950's the number grown to over 720. For the first 50 years visitors came from all over the world because you could "Laugh Your Troubles Away" at Riverview Amusement Park. At night Riverview Park was just beautiful with all the lights lighting up the sky. I was very young and still remember Riverview Park it's etched in my mind. In the hot summer Riverview was a cooler place because of the opened space and the cooler air from the river on the west side.
Famous Rides at Riverview Park:
"The Silver Flash" a small train traveling on a wooden track. No safety belts,
No padding for your butt, just a grab bar that you did. The Silver Flash looked like a Chicago L train. No safety belts and No one got hurt. On the west of the park was the river No fence No swimming signs No safety signs, No one fell into the river.
I wonder Why? You think people were just smarter back then.
From the top of the "Shoot the Chutes" a 20 foot wooden boat that went down a 40 foot high slide into a small lake. For safety just a grab bar Nobody ever fell out or got hurt.
"Flying Turns" a Roller Coaster car that went free rolling in a topped chute. Gravity was your only safety harness that kept you safe. No one ever fell out. SCROLL DOWN FOR??
This ride scared me at a very young age. "Pair - O - Chutes" the seat was a single plank maybe a 2x8 hooked to 2 chains, that you healed on to 2 riders and one chute you rose up about 60 to 70 feet in the air and dropped until the chute filled and brought you down to the ground. This was the scariest ride I ever went on!
"Aladdin's Castle" was called the (Fun House) and it was just that fun.
"The Rotor" was a round room that spun until centrifugal force pinned you to the wall and then the floor dropped away.
"Sky Ride" was a little car on a cable it was the last ride built in Riverview Park in the early 1960's. This ride cost about $375,000 Dollars, this ride never made money.
An insiders look into Riverview Park . Just for Fun!!!
People were hired to walk around the midway as shills with prizes, enticing people to play the games on the midway. Employees got to go on test rides and enjoy the park too. Their never was a set closing time at Riverview. Closing time was depended on the crowd flow. The 74 acres of Riverview Amusement Park has a lasting impact on the residents of City of Chicago. If you want to see a baby boomer smile say the Magic words Riverview Amusement Park. This was Magic and it was from Chicago a great place to grow up. In it's 64 years, Riverview entertained over 200,000,000 people. Riverview employed hundreds of thousands people that made a living wage. This was a great time in America that so many of us grow up in. I hope America can do this again.
By the 1960's attendance was way off and the park was in need of over 1.5 million dollars in repairs and renovations. Here is the bottom line why Riverview Amusement Park closed. Economic reason that was good for the owners on October 3, 1967 the Lasalle Street Investment Group purchased Riverview Park for an Estimated 6.5 Million Dollars and our beloved Riverview was promptly demolished. To give you an idea of how money this was today this would be about 85+ million dollars.
I remember Riverview Park was pure simple fun something special just magic.
We all looked forward in spending a day or night at Chicago's Riverview Park!
I hope you "Laugh Some of Your Troubles Away"
I hope you enjoyed our journey back in time till we go into the way back machine again.
May God Bless You and Your Family.