Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Riverview Park, RIP 1967

In my previous post, Charles commented that there's a tale to be told about this old park. Perhaps a Twice-Told Tale, as Nathanial Hawthorne was so fond of. The top photos are off of Google--the entrance always reminded me of the Taj Mahal in some small way--the bottom two photos, well, scans, are from my secret stash. Richard Chwedyk, who, like me, tends to reply in email rather than on the blog, further described the Aladdin's Castle from the previous post as having rolling wooden floors and the turban dude's eyes moved back and forth. Its been in the 90s quite a bit this month, ideal amusement park weather, and I still can't believe we had this joint right in the middle of the city. A couple of generations ago...Wayne


James Robert Smith said...

I made my last visit to an amusement park some years ago at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. I had a perfectly good time...but I realized I was done for good with amusement parks. They just don't amuse me anymore, and watching the other hairless apes did nothing but make me feel depressed. I wouldn't even make a detour these days to investigate a seedy, perhaps interesting, old amusement park.

Locally, we have the mostly abandoned and largely gone to weed PTL CLUB. A few years ago I drove into it with novelists Rick Hautala and James Morrow. I found it terribly amusing to see the place falling to pieces, vast and once-packed parking lots filled with weeds, waterpark baking and silent in the SC sun, the old shopping center and hotel crumbling and boarded, the condo tower (that was the straw that broke the messiah's back) rusting and blank and eerie.

I thought it was all a monstrous joke (but I tend to look upon all religion that way), and Rick Hautala was visibly frightened by the place, and James Morrow seemed to just soak it all in quietly and without much comment.

I really must go back out there and do a photo journal of the place before it's all sold off to feed the encroaching urban sprawl of Charlotte.

Charles Gramlich said...

It's a shame to see these old parks go. A worthy cause for a wealthy philanthropist. Unfortunately I'm not.

Anonymous said...

Riverview! Gosh, I remember it-- that's where I had my very first rollercoaster ride. I was too small for the safety bar; the rollercoaster went on the downhill swoop and I came out of the seat. My Mom shoved me back down and held me there until the end of the ride. For awhile Bill Breedlove had that Aladdin's Castle photo across the top of his webpage, before he had it redesigned.

Gosh. Riverview. How cool is that memory?

Michael Fountain: Blood for Ink said...

The Alladin's Castle entrance was the first thing about Riverview to stick in my mind (I was always more about the fun house and ghost train than roller coasters), but I think he was gone by the end of the sixties. In Benton Harbor we had the House of David amusement park, also spawned by a religious cult like the PTL, and quite the place from the 1930s to the early 70s (now overgrown and haunted), beer garden, big name acts, talent shows, miniature train. And 10-15 minutes across the river, St. Joseph had Silver Beach, with roller coasters, ghost train, and Shadowland Ballroom (hello, Peter Straub) now completely bulldozed.