4. Fort George Amusement Park (1895-1914)
Fort George Amusement Park Postcard from 1905 / Photo from Wikimedia Commons by MCNY
Fort George Amusement Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, was a relatively short-lived amusement park open from 1895 to 1914. The park occupied an area between 190th and 192nd Streets and became known as “Harlem’s Coney Island.” The area initially consisted of a number of German-owned disjointed amusements, some of which operated at the wealthy site of Jones’s Wood. Many of those who came to the Fort George Amusement park were miners and foundry workers who helped construct the New York City subway uptown, operators of the trolley system, and the servants of the wealthy families who had moved uptown.
The park was known for its toboggan slide built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, a vaudeville stage built by Russian immigrants Joseph and Nicholas Schenck and theater operator Marcus Loew, and a 16-bucket Ferris wheel. The Schenck brothers built a new addition to the amusement park called Paradise Park, which had a 10 cent entry fee. There was a casino (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, “for socializing, not gambling”), according to the New York Transit Museum, a carousel, shooting galleries, a hotel and more. The amusement park mostly burned down in a 1913 fire, and the park officially closed a year later, although a number of concessionaires continued to operate rides there for several more years.