4. Palisades Amusement Park used to have the world’s largest saltwater pool
Palisades Amusement Park, located atop the New Jersey Palisades, was a 38-acre amusement park split between Fort Lee and Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Opened in 1898, the park was originally conceived as a trolley park, a picnic area at the end of streetcar lines that had many of the same amenities as amusement parks but on a smaller scale. After the trolley company in Fort Lee sold the park, the new owner brought in a Ferris wheel and an attraction called a diving horse. It was bought in 1910 by Nicholas and Joseph Schenck, who were film executives during Fort Lee’s film boom and owned Fort George Amusement Park in New York City. Under the Schencks’s ownership, a saltwater swimming pool measuring 400 by 600 feet was constructed at the park. It also functioned as an early wave pool, attracting so many residents that the nearby borough of Palisades Park considered changing its name. The pool was the largest saltwater swimming pool in the country (and likely the world) at the time.
The park, though, carried out several instances of segregation, including banning the Palisades Pool to those who were not white and ejecting those who refused to follow park protocol, which was in violation of New Jersey law. Some of these instances damaged the park’s reputation, though its real decline occurred in the late 1960s. Parking was a major issue, and Jack Rosenthal’s death made it unclear who would take over. The park’s popularity partly damaged the charm of Fort Lee according to residents, who complained of traffic congestion and trash. There were also quite a few instances of people being injured or killed at the park, and on September 12, 1971, the park shut its doors for the last time. Many of the park’s buildings were immediately destroyed, many rides were sold to other parks, and the swimming pool was used for a short time before being vandalized. Four high-rise luxury apartment buildings have been built on the former amusement park.