This Month in History

November

  • 1906: Construction of a new park in Chicago, Ill., began in mid-October, at the corner of 52nd Street and Halsted Street. The short-lived park opened as Luna Park in 1907 and competed with other parks in the Chicago area during its short existence, including Riverview Park and White City. Located on a former picnic grove, it was created by a local investment group and serviced by trolley lines. At only 10 acres, it included a midway, small roller coaster, merry-go-round, a ballroom, restaurants and other attractions. Because of its small size and expanding competition, including Sans Souci Park, attendance began to decline as the other area parks continued to expand with new attractions and entertainment. The park closed for part of the 1910 season, while owners looked to sell the failing operation. It opened for only part of the 1911 season, after which, most rides and structures were removed in 1912. Today, the former neighborhood of Luna Park contains single family homes.
  • 1924: When the State Fair of Texas, in Dallas, Texas, closed on Oct. 24, the new Lightning roller coaster at the Dallas Fairgrounds was credited for bringing in the crowds, as nearly a million visitors enjoyed the fair. Many had come out to ride the new 3,000-foot-long, out-and-back wooden coaster, which had first operated on Aug. 7. Officials credited the new ride for increasing attendance from the 1923 fair, in conjunction with a new midway and other mechanical rides. Paired up with the nearby John Miller Skyrocket, the state-of-the-art Miller coaster, built by F.W. Pearce, it thrilled fairgoers for nearly a decade. It wasthe first time the Fairgrounds operated four wooden coasters.
  • 1946: The October 2 fire at Coney Island, Brooklyn, N.Y., was the final nail in the coffin for Thompson and Dundy’s Luna Park, which had closed permanently after a devastating fire two years earlier. Sparks from a worker’s blow torch ignited refuse under the remaining section of the Mile Sky Chaser coaster. The four-alarm fire lasted into the night while subway and trolley service near the former park was halted. With the flames moving to other structures in rapid succession, the fire consumed everything that was left except the ballroom, pool and administration building. The park was in the process of being torn down to make room for a housing project, which did not materialize at that time. It was used primarily as a parking lot until the city began construction of the Luna Park Houses (a set of high-rise, lowincome housing projects which still stand today) in the late 1950s.

—Compiled by Richard Munch/NRCMA Historian