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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Former Euclid Beach Park, Cleveland, OH, in Retrospect

Yesterday I read some awesome news! The Euclid Beach Carousel is close to being fully refurbished and reinstalled near the former Euclid Beach Park! This beloved carousel at this former beloved park will provide joy to the community once again.
Photo courtesy of cleveland.com
Full article here

While in Northern Ohio back over the summer, we wanted to check out the site of this legendary park. Euclid Beach Park was located on the east side of Cleveland. This legendary park closed in 1969 due to continued racial tensions. The park was the site of courageous protests to desegregate the pool and attractions in 1946. Unfortunately, the park and community were never able to fully alleviate the racial tensions, similar to the former Glen Echo Park near Washington, D.C. 

One of the issues that the park had was that instead of integrating the attractions, they opted to just close attractions one by one. This lead towards a hostile environment and the eventual closure of the park. It is pretty amazing to see how far we have come in regards to civil rights in the short period of forty to fifty years in addition to being sickening to see. The park purported that it was a "family park," yet it engaged in these sorts of activities. It is a shame the park was unable to resolve the issues because the park had coasters from some of the absolute greatest roller coaster designers of all time, including Herbert Schmeck, John Miller, Ingersoll, and others.
Source: Wikimedia Archives
The park also suffered from the closure of the trolley line in 1963. Easier access by way of the Interstate highway system allowed folks to more easily access parks like Cedar Point and Geauga Lake. Additionally, when the park was forced to desegregate, they went behind on the maintenance in the park and then blamed the decline upon the presence of black patrons in the park. This was a common scapegoat during this time period within amusement parks located in urban areas. In this time period, attention was focused more upon parks that were further out in the suburbs and the country. Large suburban parks were already in the works, such as Kings Island, Kings Dominion, Great Adventure, the Marriott Great America parks, and others. The urban parks were threatened at this point. Many closed in the late 60s and into the 70s, and the majority would definitely be gone by the end of the 80s. 
Source: Wikimedia Archives

One of the only remains from the park is the wonderful gate. I am glad that they preserved this cool remnant. 
This is how the gate looked in its heyday. (Photo credit to Old Time Candy)
Aerial view of the park (Photo credit to the Cleveland State University Library)

One of the most lasting contributions by this park is the park's racing carousel, which was relocated to Cedar Point and named the "Cedar Downs," a ride that still thrills riders, roughly 90 years after it was first made. The ride is one of only two remaining rides of its type, with the other located at Rye Playland in New York.  

 The beach now.....
 Once upon a time......
They have a nice little picnic area next to the lake for the folks that live in the apartment buildings.
 Heading out now.
I really wish we could have seen the park's former Schmeck PTC masterpiece, the Miller racing coaster, and their flying turns coaster. It is a shame that they let the park go in this manner. It is a lesson for us to see what we can lose when we let petty problems overcome our better judgement. We lost one of the this and some of the other best amusement parks during this era. These parks could have been courageous leaders in the civil rights movement. Amusement parks are places where everyone gets together to get over their troubles. Unfortunately the park ended up closing instead of being a place where everyone could go to relax. Hopefully we can look at the situation of this place as an example of what not to do in the face of conflict.

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