Thursday, April 07, 2016

Vintage Postcard - Riverview Park

Today, Ken Martinez continues his series of vintage amusement park postcards with a park that I am totally unfamiliar with, even though I am a Chicago boy (I moved away when I was a tadpole, so I have a good excuse). Here's Ken:

Chicago's Riverview Park

Chicago's Riverview Park is considred legendary among amusement park enthusiasts and old time Chicagoans. It operated for 64 season from 1903 to 1967 on 74 acres, making it one of the largest and most popular parks of its time. It's also a good example of a premier traditional amusement park that failed to survive through the modern theme park era.

Here is the Red, White and Blue Entrance to Riverview Park. At one time there were seven roller coasters operating at the park, six of them wooden and one a steel Wild Mouse. All together 19 roller coasters were built at the park throughout its 64 year history.

Pictured here is the Riverview Park's Carousel, a five-row Merry-go-round built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1908. When the park closed, it was saved from demolition when it was purchased by Six Flags. You can still ride this carousel, but not at Riverview Park.

When Riverview Park closed, Six Flags purchased the Carousel and then restored it and moved it to Six Flags over Georgia (pictured here) where it's still in operation today.

The Coaster everone came to ride at Riverview Park was "The Bobs". This black and white cardboard photo was probably sold with a set from a vending machine. I remember cards like this as a child.

Here is the entrance to "The Bobs" which was considered the premier ride at Riverview Park. It had a reputation for high speeds, sudden drops and hidden turns, and was considered one of the most tortuous devices ever created for an amusement park.

The Silver Flash (formerly Pippin) was similar to the "Comet" roller coaster also at the park, in that unusual covered coaster trains made to look like modern streamliners were used. It must've provided an interesting ride.

Chicago was stunned when it was announced in October 1967 that Riverview Park would close forever. In the 1960's the Park would experience increasing crime with pickpockets on the midway and purse snatchers in the dark funhouses. Ultimately the land was worth more than the park's revenue, so it was closed and the land wold for development.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to Chicago's famous Riverview Park.

Information Source Material:
Funland U.S.A. copyright 1978 by Tim Onosko
Roller Coaster Database

THANK YOU as always for this cool article about a park that I'd never heard of! There is much more to come from Ken Martinez, so stay tuned.


Nanook said...


Thanks for sharing these great views from Riverview Park. I never made it there, either, but have heard all about it - including the infamous Bobs.

K. Martinez said...

Hey GDB Folks!

Here's a video from the Chicago Film Archives featuring Riverview Amusement Park and some of the attractions mentioned in today's post. Enjoy!

Nancy said...

Beautiful views! :-)

I love the big! Im sure you couldnt help but be drawn in by it. Are those wires for streetcars that we see in the entrance view? The park I grew up at here in Pittsburgh, West View Park, was opened as a trolley park in 1906 and we always rode the trolley there. Its one of those really happy memories from growing up.

The Pippin was the original name of our other park's most famous coaster, the Thunderbolt. Many travel to Kennywood to ride it every year. I think its cool that parks all over the country are connected thru things like the ride names, rides that are sold and reopen at other parks, etc. Even Disneyland and WDW share rides.

Its so hard when the parks close. You know its financial, but all you feel is sadness for the good times you know you wont have there anymore. We lost West View Park in 1977, and tho we still have Kennywood, its just not the same.

Thanks as always for such a fun post. Looking forward to more. :-D

Snow White Archive said...

The Silver Flash looks like something out of a vintage Buck Rogers episode. Love it.

K. Martinez said...

Nanook, The Bobs' curves remind me a lot of the Giant Dipper's curves at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Nancy, As you may already know, a lot of the early amusement parks started out as trolley parks. With the park usually being located at the endpoint, it was a way for the trolley companies to get people to use their full transportation line. I envy you living close to what is probably the best traditional amusement park in the country.

Snow White Archive, I was thinking of the Viewliner as well. I wonder how the ride was being confined inside the vehicles and flying around the turns and going up and down the hills. I'd think one would bump their head if there was too much airtime.

Glad you all enjoyed today's postcards.

Pegleg Pete said...

Great cards, Ken – thanks! I'd never heard of Riverview before but as a child in the early Seventies I did enjoy riding that Carousel with its wooded hilltop position at Six Flags Over Georgia.

Dean Finder said...

Didn't Jean Shepherd make reference to riding "The Bobs" in a few of the stories from his childhood on the radio?

TokyoMagic! said...

Another great old park that I wish I could have seen in person. It's nice to know that the carousel survived. I wonder if anything else was sold off to other parks. That second postcard shows a ride called the Aerostat. I was going to say that it looks like it might have been similar to the chrome rocket ship rides that were at some of the older parks (and similar to California Adventure's Golden Zephyr), but upon closer inspection, it appears that maybe the cars were some kind of gondola with a striped awning over them. I know Euclid Beach Park near Cleveland, Ohio, had a similar ride with wicker gondolas, which were later replaced by the large chrome rocket ships.

Thanks for sharing more of your collection with us, Ken!