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Riverview Amusement Park

The entrance gate at Riverview Amusement Park. Published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago. From the postcard archives at the Newberry Library in Chicago 

Memories and a few postcards are some of the only things left of Riverview Amusement Park. The park has given many Baby Boomers some of the fondest memories of their childhood, as it has for Alice Belmont, a resident living in a northwest suburb of Chicago. Belmont remembers visiting the amusement park at least once as a child.

 “I don’t remember which rides I went on, but I do remember the big sign with the [man wearing the turban],” she said. The massive cutout of an image of the man with the turban was at the entrance of the Aladdin’s Castle funhouse exhibit.

The Blue Streak roller coaster. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago.
From the postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Not far from the castle was the freak show exhibit, which at one time featured a girl with four legs as well as magician Marshall Brodien, who would play Wizzo the Wizard on the “Bozo Show” on WGN Television. Belmont remembers another performer near the area rolling on a skate board with no legs.

The 74-acre Riverview park adjacent to the north branch of the Chicago River near Belmont Ave. and Western Ave. operated from 1904 to 1967. The park first served as a sharpshooter park with many targets set up in the area, according to the Chicago Time Machine website. Many deer living in the woods were hunted at the site.

While the men were having fun shooting their guns, the wives and children complained of nothing to do, and in 1906 the owners commissioned Swiss and Italian woodcarvers to build a 70-horse carousel for their amusement. The carousel is actually still in operation today at Six Flags in Atlanta, Georgia, and was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1995.

The Silver Flash roller coaster. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago.
From the postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

The park continued to grow and grow over the years and had several popular roller coasters like the Blue Streak and Silver Flash.Two other rides that people often recall include the Shoot the Chute water ride and the Pair-o-Chutes drop ride. The Shoot the Chute ride allowed several people to sit in a wooden boat that went up a ramp before plunging downward into a pool of water. A park employee would ride in the back of the boat and perform a maneuver to prevent the boat from capsizing in the pool.

The Pair-o-Chutes drop was both frightening and fun for many people. The seat, which resembled a leather child’s swing, would hold only two people. The seat and parachute above would be pulled up about two hundred feet before it would open and glide the riders quickly to the ground. The ride had ropes that could stop it in case of a malfunction.

Roller coasters at Riverview. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago.
From the postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Just before Riverview closed in 1967, the park had 120 rides, including six roller coasters and a midway, according to the Chicago Tribune. More than 1.7 million people visited the park in its last year, nearly as many people who attended the Cubs and White Sox games combined in that year. The owners, however, suddenly sold the site for more than $6 million to developers.

While some say the park’s closing was economical, others have rumored that violence was beginning to plague the park. Whatever the reason for its closing, Riverview was a fun outlet for children and adults for almost six decades, and provided great memories that that still live for many people today.

A four-minute video about Riverview appears at the bottom of this post.

The Shoot the Chute water ride. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago.
From the postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Riverview Amusement Park at night. Postcard published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago.
From the  postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Postcard of Aladdin's Castle published by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., of Chicago. 
From the postcard archives of the Newberry Library in Chicago.

A photograph of Marshall Brodien, who played Wizzo the Wizard on the “Bozo Show."
 He died last  year at his home in Geneva, IL. This is a photograph from WGN and is not a postcard.

Riverview Video from YouTube 


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