Monday, May 27, 2024

A bright and short life of New York’s Fort George Park

In old photos of New York City exists the metropolis, which we will never see again. Some sights, buildings, institutions and amusement parks became a thing of the past, destroyed by man or time. Few people know, but in the late 19th century, the northern part of New York was a place where locals came to have fun and relax. The wonderful Fort George Park was the most popular among New Yorkers and tourists. It did not last long but gave visitors a lot of joyful emotions and sweet memories. Mass media wrote about that park and guests of New York considered it their duty to visit it. Read more at new-york-future

History of the founding of Fort George and amusement in the park

New York’s Fort George Amusement Park was opened to visitors in 1895. It was located between 190th and 192nd Streets, along Amsterdam Avenue. The park was named after General George Washington, who fought the British for the independence of the United States. 

Locals loved coming to Fort George for the weekend with family or friends. There were many exciting attractions in the park, a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster and a toboggan slide. Amusement rides were located on the hills on the waterfront, where extreme enthusiasts could admire the views of the Harlem River. Fort George also had countless small shops selling sweets, popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs. There were also hotels for tourists who planned to stay in the metropolis for a few days. In addition, New Yorkers could visit shooting galleries and music halls located in the Fort George territory. A particularly popular establishment in the park was the Old Barrel, where beer was sold. Its owners were brothers Joseph and Nicholas Schenck. 

The Fort George Amusement Park was slightly smaller than the famous Coney Island. However, the park could compete with it on equal footing by popularity. During the summer, Fort George had many visitors and their number was increasing every year. According to the publication of The Sun, which called Fort George “Harlem’s Coney Island”, about seventy thousand New Yorkers and city guests visited it in summer. At first, the entrance to the park was free, but once the Schenck brothers opened new rides, visitors had to pay 10 cents. The convenient location also influenced the popularity of the park, as it was located at the end of the trolley line on Third Avenue. 

The tragic fate of Fort George Park

Through the years, Fort George Park was gradually growing larger and developing, while residential areas were appearing around it. Soon, residents began to complain that it was uncomfortable for them to live in constant noise. Moreover, the crime level increased in that area, since the noisy place often attracted suspicious persons. 

At first, the police tried to deal with this issue by patrolling near the park. Palmistry sessions and various gambling games were banned in Fort George. The police also tried to identify criminals in the thickets near the park and isolate this territory from the houses of New Yorkers. However, this approach proved ineffective and people continued to ask for this park to be closed. 

In the winter of 1911, one of the local vandals decided to handle it on his own and set fire to the amusement rides of the Schenck brothers. The park suffered 25,000 dollars in damage and several buildings were damaged, but the park was quickly repaired and reopened. Two years later, Fort George was in flames again, the source of which was unknown. This time, the park and rides were completely destroyed and the New York Times wrote that not a single building survived. As a result, the Fort George park area was merged with a nearby park called High Bridge. 

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