The closing of Riverview

Children would beg their parents to drive by slowly-- especially at night--so they could savor the lights, watch one of the Pair-O-Chutes float to the ground from an Erector-set tower and listen to the squeals of terrified riders on the roller coasters. It was Riverview, a place where, in the words of well-named entertainer and television pitchman Dick "Two-Ton" Baker, you could "laugh your troubles away."

Opened in 1904 on what was the German Sharpshooters club at Western and Belmont Avenues, Riverview began with three rides on 74 acres and the promise of "an avalanche of novelties, a whirlwind of surprises." Over the years the novelties and surprises grew, and the park became a second home to generations of youngsters.

Toward the end there were 120 rides, including six roller coasters, plus a midway complete with freaks and barkers and kewpie dolls.More than 1.7 million people visited the park in 1967, nearly as many as watched the Cubs and White Sox at home that year combined. But it was not enough to save the park. On this date came the announcement that Riverview had been sold to developers for more than $6 million. Aladdin's Castle and the Pair-O-Chutes and the Tunnel of Love and the Flying Turns and the Water Bug and the Rotor and the Ghost Train and even the revered Bobs would be flattened, gone, history.

In truth, Riverview, though still profitable, had in its final years lost some of its sparkle. By the mid-1960s, some troubles could not just be laughed away.

"Midst all the dripping nostalgia over the demise of Riverview," wrote the Tribune's Herb Lyon in his Tower Ticker column, "one sorry fact stands out. It was sold to industrial interests primarily because of the unprecedented leap in juvenile delin-punksy this past season. In fact, it was a tinder-box nightly, with violence lurking behind the rollercoaster fun--and is one more casualty of the way things are."

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Construction ongoing at Wrigley Field
    Construction ongoing at Wrigley Field

    From bleachers to structural details, work to renovate Wrigley Field continues.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.

Comments
Loading