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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Magic Kingdom: 1905

Magic Kingdom: 1905

Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts, circa 1905. "Bird's eye view of Paragon Park from Rockland House." Note the Schlitz sign as well as the "Katzenjammer Castle." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Just Magical

This image is so magical and otherworldly. The landscape of water and hills, dotted with isolated homes -- the lighthouse to the far right, the paddlewheel ships - is as enchanting as the amusement park itself. The artificial world of the park, and the real world of the park's environs, are both so dream-like and compelling that it is hard to tell where one ends and one begins. An entire world of fantasy within a single image.

Partly Burnt: 1916


The Standard, Jun 10, 1905.

Boston and New England.

Paragon Park Buildings Insured for $100,000.

Paragon Park, which is operated by the Eastern Park Construction Company of Boston, is said to be the largest amusement park in New England, comprising twenty acres of land and containing thirty distinct shows. The amusement buildings surround a large lagoon, and are one and two stories in height and of frame and plaster construction. Two-thirds of the interior finish, however, is of compressed steel, and certain of the exterior walls are also of compressed steel. The palm garden, which is the largest of the buildings in the enclosure and upon which $12,000 of the insurance is placed, is considered well cut off from the other structures, and in event of fire in other sections of the park, it is not thought that this building would be exposed. The power house and the electric light plant are located at the extreme end of the park near the main entrance.


Municipal Journal, Sep 21, 1916.

Fire and Police

Summer Resort Swept by Fire.

Paragon Park, a popular Nantasket summer resort is partly destroyed as the result of an early morning fire which swept through its pleasure buildings doing $50,000 damages. The big Palm Garden, the principal building of the park, had been saved, but the dance hall, the old mill, the moving picture theatre, the entrance, the sand bumps and a portion of the roller coaster, as well as other buildings were destroyed. Several firemen were injured, but none seriously. The fire starting in the sand bumps about 1 o'clock, from unknown cause, swept eastward, toward the other structures. Fanned by a heavy wind, the flames were carried across the park, destroying the power station, and many telephone and telegraph poles were also destroyed. A huge water curtain thrown in front of the Palm Garden saved it from destruction, while firemen from Hull, Cohasset, Hingham, Scituate, Quincy and other near-by towns checked the flames after they had seriously threatened to destroy the Nantasket hotel, the pier of the Nantasket Steamboat Company, 100 or more cottages in the residential section of Rockland Hill and other buildings. At 2.30 o'clock the fire was under control. While the fire was in progress, thousands of persons arrived in automobiles and other conveyances to watch the spectacle. Chief Frank F. Reynolds, of the Hull police, fire chief John Mitchell of Hull, and chief Charles Bickford of the Metropolitan park police will conduct a probe. As an indirect result of the fire, a lineman employed by the Weymouth Light & Power Company, was probably fatally injured when he was thrown from the company truck when it skidded. Wheeler and other members of a repair crew were responding to a hurry call from the park to repair a live wire which had fallen from a burned pole.

Waning days

That's Hingham Harbor to the left. As a child in Hingham in the late 1950s, I was aware of dilapidated Paragon Park but don't retain any vivid memories of it. I do remember collecting sea glass along more-stony-than-sandy Nantasket Beach.

Just out of frame is World's End, a peninsula where my family often walked and flew kites: beautiful hillsides, groves, and a few gravel roads lined with stately trees. For 20 years I remembered it as Arcadia, nature at its most harmonious...then learned that it had been landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted for a luxury housing development that didn't pan out.

Cottage Lots

Are there still any cottage lots remaining? I'll take one.

Intermodal transport

I see a train platform next to the park and it's also just a short walk from the pier with those cool sidewheel steamers with the walking beams. E-Z access, indeed. Now all I have to do is drag my time machine out of the garage and find my straw boater.

I'm seeing it

Riding a sidewheeler. Walking on a beautiful beach while looking at a distant lighthouse. Going to a beautiful amusement park and riding the roller coaster. I am looking at heaven.

Johnstown Flood funhouse

Can I get an idea of what that building housed (bottom left)? Maybe some debris, a log flume? That place looks like fun, even a bit ghoulish.

Dreamlands Baby

This reminds me a lot of Dreamland Park that was on Coney Island, especially the big tower. Mini Dreamland!

The Giant Coaster

Apparently the roller coaster in the background was moved, and it's still in operation at Six Flags America, Largo, Maryland (now called "The Wild One").

Who knew

That Hans und Fritz were closet aristocrats?!?

Opposite from the expected

This is like looking at a stage set from the back of the wings; all that excitement inside and beyond that gaudy fence? Grass. All illusion, as it was meant to be.

Another fantastic photograph

The clarity from top to bottom is just stunning. Before even getting to the park, I've already lost ten minutes just scrolling around the hillside and waterways, steamboats and sailing ships. Well done.

Gone but not forgotten

Paragon Park closed its doors in 1984. Loved the Bermuda Triangle ride and the Giant Coaster. Many folks would rather take out a second mortgage and go to Disney than frequent their local amusement parks. I'm glad places like Cedar Point in Ohio, Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh and Lake Compounce in Connecticut are still around.

 
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