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Fun Factory: 1921

Fun Factory: 1921

New York, June 1921. "Starlight Park." Our second look at this long-forgotten (not so much as a Wikipedia entry) amusement complex surrounded by factories in the Bronx. Even the park itself has a kind of industrial look. Sign next to the rock: "All persons are FORBIDDEN to sit on the Cascade." Online, the only other pics I've been able to find show ruins. 5x7 glass negative, G.G. Bain. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Roller Coaster fears

That is one rickety looking roller coaster. Just looking at it is scary.

Astonishing Database

I am blown away by the NYT database as much as these Shorpy photos. I never realized, and this is confirmed by Kairha, that the Times has archived this much material, put it online, and has indexed it to such a degree.

From the article I also learned that apparently coasters in those days had "operators" in the individual vehicles. Who would have known if not for Shorpy?

I wonder if Connolly was ever prosecuted for the incident?

[Then as now, the operator of the coaster would not be riding in it. -Dave]

We've come quite a way

The NYTimes article shows we've come quite a way in amusement park safety and racial awareness ("the negro" escaped injury). Yoiks!

Some constants remain. Idiots still stand up on rides and kids like to check each other out at the pool.

The Eternal Teenager

You'll note, if you look closely at their faces and their stances, that none of the young men here are threatening, defiant or smart-alecky -- just open, friendly and fun. Also, who knew that they were building phony rock formations way back in 1921? I'd always presumed that they were something invented for miniature golf courses in the 1950s. My maternal grandparents lived in the Bronx from about 1913 until 1927. They would have known about this place and may even have gone there with their two youngsters, born in 1914 and 15.


NY Times article relating to a rollercoaster accident at the park in 1922.

Somebody in a skylarking mood stood up in a seat on a roller-coaster train early yesterday morning at Starlight Amusement Park, 177th Street and the Bronx River, and fell out as the train struck a curve on the fifty-foot level. The operator jammed on the emergency brake ... Continue reading

Starlight Park

From a 1995 Letter the the Editor in the New York Times.

I am writing to correct your impression, expressed in a chart accompanying the "New York 1945" article, that Starlight Park in the Bronx was a soccer field.

Starlight Park included a soccer field, to be sure, but to my family, the Schwartzes, and the other working class, mostly Jewish families who went there, the park was a blue-collar country club. It had a big swimming pool with a sort of observation veranda alongside, a sandy "beach" and lockers by the day or season. It had a picnic grove. It had strategically planted trees, each surrounded by a low wall, which families would stake out for the summer.

The "Make-Believe Ballroom" played over loudspeakers all day long, which is how I still know the lyrics to all the 40's songs. Saturday nights the park had big bands and jitterbugging on an outside dance floor; I used to watch my older cousin Sylvia dance with G.I.'s.

Weeknights the fathers would come after work, sweating, their jackets hooked by one finger behind them, and the mothers would feed them chicken and boiled beef out of the pots lugged from home. When the sun finally set, we would plod home up Tremont Avenue to Southern Boulevard; along the way we stopped at the candy store my father called the filling station to buy a lime rickey, or cherry soda.


and you shall receive...

One question, though: how are you dating this as 1920? In their online catalogue, he LoC says there's no date listed on the caption card.

[Fantabulous, thank you! About the date, there are 17 glass negatives in this group ("5479") of pictures taken at Starlight. One of them has "6/13/21" written on it. Which I did not even notice until you asked this question. I was basing my earlier "circa 1920" on another 1921 date written on one plate in a slightly higher-numbered group of Bain negatives. - Dave]

She's not alone, either

This must've been THE place to meet attractive, young single men, because if you look closely towards the middle left of the photo, under the second tower/spire there appears to be a group of 5 to 6 other "hussies in waiting..."

If Dave would be ever so kind to crop and zoom...

Thanks again for another terrific photo on this brilliant website.


Look at that one hussy, with all those men! I even see some skin!!

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