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Photos And/Or Video Or Houston's Old Amusement Parks


Alex Rigsby

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Does anyone have or able to provide access to photographs of old amusement parks in Texas? I love amusement parks and roller coasters and travel each year to visit parks. This past July, I travelled to Germany for two weeks to do such and do other sightseeing, as well.

Within Houston, I know there were

  1. AstroWorld (of course)
  2. Playland Park (near the old AstroWorld site, though I don't know exactly where)
  3. Hanna Barbera Land (became Splashtown in Spring)
  4. Oak Park (near the intersection of Washington and Houston Avenue)
  5. Peppermint Park (apparently there were several, with one near the old Gulfgate Mall)
  6. KiddieLand (where Kroger is now at Kirby and S. Main)
  7. Electric Park (I think this was at what is now White Oak Park off Houston Avenue, just north of I-10. This was one of the trolley parks that opened at the turn of the 20th century. I remember reading that the park would not hire union labor and that, supposedly, some union members set of dynamite on trolleys in retaliation. I can find the article on the internet again if anyone would like to read about it. Information about this park has been extremely difficult to come by.)

Elsewhere in Texas there was:

  1. A park purportedly in Corpus Christi
  2. Electric Park in Galveston
  3. Some other park in Galveston
  4. Exposition Park in San Antonio
  5. Lake Worth Park in San Antonio
  6. Lake Side Park in Wichita Falls
  7. Playland Park in San Antonio (their old wooden rollercoaster called "The Rocket" was moved an opened at Knoebel's Amusement Park in 1985)
  8. Pleasure Pier in Port Arthur

This last latter is referenced (but not in detail) at http://defunctparks..../TX/indexTX.htm

I would also love to find photos or video of Ponchartrain Beach in New Orleans (which I visited in 1982) and the not-so-well-known Lincoln Park in New Orleans which was built to cater to the black community during segregation.

I know some people have commented on such in other posts, but many date back several years. If you have footage of your own on, say, 8mm, I may be willing to help pay for the conversion. If any of you have questions, about these or other parks, I'll be delighted to answer to the best of my ability. And, in case you don't know, Landry's is turning the pier that the old Flagship Inn was on into the "Galveston Pleasure Pier" with amusement rides and restaurant(s). That is tentatively expected to open in May, 2012, and there is lots of local news coverage and articles on it.

Thanks!

Alex

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As a kid growing up in southwest Houston in the 50s and 60s I went to sleep in the spring and summer months listening to the screams of the people on the roller coaster at Playland. We lived within walking distance to the park, that was across the street from Gaido's Seafood restaurant. On Saturday nights I could hear the race cars roaring around the track. When I was 8 years old my dad would take me to watch the races. They raced there up into the early 60s then moved the racing to Meyer's Speedway out on S.Main past the South Main Drive In. I watch A.J.Foyt more or less start his racing career at those 2 tracks. Here's an overhead shot of Playland park from 1953.

astroTrack-playland53-600.jpg

Edited by blue92
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http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/2540-old-houston-amusement-places/page__hl__%20amusement%20%20parks

...have u seen the other links to amusement park subjects on HAIF...I think it's one of the favorite things to discuss in the Historic Houston topic. I believe I posted a pic of Kiddie Land on Main St. somewhere in there.

Also try just searching "amusement park" within HAIF's search function. Might help. So much info. is in this website. I was amazed when I first started reading HAIF.

In fact, a general internet search for Peppermint Park led me to HAIF.

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I guess these are more akin to Showbiz Pizza rather than amusement parks....

but you left out Fame City and Fame City Waterworks.

There was also Games People Play somewhere down in the Bellaire area as well.

Also.. somewhere on LongPoint in the mid 80s there was a small kiddie amusement park ( a few permanent carnival size rides).. it was called Sunshine something.

As far as photos... if you look up Houston: Then and Now, the cover clearly shows a roller coaster smack down in the middle. I don't know if this is either your Oak Park or Electric Park because it appears to be located just east of Houston ave and just south of the Bayou.

I can't find the roller coaster in any of Google Earth's historic imagery.

also found reference to a Coombs Park and Natorium in the Heights..

http://houstorian.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/coombs-park-and-heights-natatorium/

61rHiwwEGbL._SS500_.jpg

Edited by Highway6
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Have ;you come across Houstorian? An excellent blog on Houston history (the blogger is a HAIFer, too). Here's the archive on amusement parks, including Luna Park, which I believe you are referring to as Oak Park. There is also a thread here on HAIF about Luna Park.

As I recall there was also a post on Houstorian about a natatorium in the Heights.

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Good find on remembering the name Luna Park... I knew that photo wasn't showing the stated location of Oak or Electric Park.

The roller coaster there was called the Skyrocket and apparently it was the biggest in the US at the time.

After Luna Park was shut down, the roller coaster was moved to Playland Park. It can be seen clearly in the google earth historic imagery from 1944 and 1953 (above) at Main and Murworth, a few blocks west of current Reliant stadium.

This might be a photo of the Skyrocket in its Playland location from 1943

http://www.loc.gov/p...i2001029931/PP/

8d19660r.jpg

Edited by Highway6
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I've seen the Houstorian website before. The roller coaster shown in the Luna Park photo may be the same one moved to Playland, but if it is then the coaster was heavily reprofiled. In Galveston, on the Seawall, there is a restaurant called The Spot that has an aerial photo of ab old wooden roller coaster that was there. PBS had a show a few years ago where an elderly woman reminisced about growing up in a house located within the middle of the structure. Understandably, she said that the noise was so great that you couldn't stand to be in the house when the coaster was running.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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