Riverview: Blast from the past
Riverview Park in Chicago was one of the great urban amusement parks, featuring rollercoasters, a ferris wheel, a fun house and a parachute drop, Riverview; wild mouse; paratrooper; water bug; tunnel of love; flying turns; baba the elephant; boomerang; the bobs.
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Riverview Park opened in 1904 at Western and Belmont Avenues on the Northwest Side. It became an iconic summertime destination that captured the imagination of young and old for more than six decades.
It featured what some insist was the finest rollercoaster of all time, The Bobs, a terrifying white-knuckle hurdle into the unknown that a writer once called "a challenge to boyhood pride since the days of knickers." (It was challenge to girlhood pride, too.)
There was much civic angst when the park was bought by a developer and closed at the end of the summer season in 1967.
The park was sold by representatives of the Henry J. Merle family and George A. Schmidt, a grandson of the original owner. He said one reason for the sale was the rising problem of violence and disorder. The rides were dismantled and sold.
Riverview was the last of the big amusement parks that once dotted the city. The park was opened in 1904 by William Schmidt, who had bought the 74 acres along the north branch of the Chicago River from the German Sharpshooter's Club for a few thousand dollars.
It began with three rides: a small roller coaster, a carousel and a shoot-the-chute.
When the park closed on Sept. 1, 1967, it had 120 rides, including six rollercoasters, a parachute jump and rockets. In terms of rides, it was said to have more than any amusement park in the world.
Pictured here, George Yautz and Helen Olson sample the breath-taking thrill of the Flying Turns in 1951.