Posts Tagged ‘Rockaways Playland’

Starlight Park: the Bronx’s answer to Coney Island

July 8, 2013

A century ago, Coney Island wasn’t the only game in town for thrilling rides and carnival magic.


Queens had Rockaways Playland, which bit the dust in 1985. Canarsie had Golden City, which closed in 1939.

StarlightparkdiveAnd the central Bronx had Starlight Park (above, in 1920), a wonderfully named destination on the Bronx River.

Opened in 1918, Starlight Park had everything Coney had bathing pavillions, a shooting gallery, a 15,000-seat stadium for the circus and other events, even a roller coaster.

“It had a big swimming pool with a sort of observation veranda alongside, a sandy ‘beach’ and lockers by the day or season,” stated a letter-writer responding to a New York Times article on the park from 1995. “It had a picnic grove.”

The park even sponsored a little culture for the masses, in the form of opera and big band shows.

Starlightparkcascade1921The stadium was home to the New York Giants soccer team, and a popular venue for amateur boxing and auto races.

Starlight Park only dazzled the Bronx for 14 years.

Closed in 1932, a fire burned down the bathing pavillions in the 1940s, after which the land became a parking lot and then a dumping ground.

Recently cleaned up, it just reopened as a traditional city parkā€”part of the revitalized Bronx River Greenway.

[Photos: George Bain Collection, Library of Congress]

Freedomland: the Bronx’s 1960s theme park

April 9, 2010

Brooklyn has Coney Island. Queens had Rockaways’ Playland. And from 1960 to 1964, the northern Bronx neighborhood of Baychester had Freedomland U.S.A.

Conceived and built by a Disneyland exec, Freedomland’s theme was, well, freedom. The theme park was shaped like America and featured various attractions based on United Sates’ history.

“The Old Southwest” area offered burro rides. Civil War battles were reenacted. Visitors could hang out in the Chicago section and help put out the Chicago fire. This old video clip can give you an idea.

The idea must have sounded great, but in the end, Freedomland never made a profit. After it was razed, developers built massive Co-Op City in its place.