Friday, December 15, 2017

Kiddy Town Amusement Park, Norridge, Illinois. (1953-1964)

Kiddy Town was located at the north side of the Harlem Irving Shopping Center, 4250 N. Harlem (at Cullom Avenue) in Norridge, Illinois. They opened in the summer of 1953.
An aerial view of Kiddy Town looking north. Harlem Avenue is on the right with part of the Harlem & Irving  Shopping Center shown at the bottom. Long gone Howard Johnson’s is shown at the bottom right. At the top right is the 35 foot electric Kiddy Town sign located at the intersection of Cullom and Harlem Avenues. The sign has a clown pointing towards the 450 parking space area with his other arm waving patrons in by way of flashing neon lights. This photo was taken in the off-season sometime in the late 1950’s.
Some of the rides were the Tilt-a-Whirl, an Allan Herschell Co. Merry-Go-Round, 
Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Little Dipper (installed in 1956), Mangels Co. Whip, Boats and Sky Fighter, Herschell Kiddie Tanks, Eyerly Co. Midge-O-Racer, Handcars, Gasoline powered Cars, a Tractor ride, a 5 car Ferris Wheel, and a Miniature Train with twin diesel engines. Pony rides were also available at the 5-acre park.

The kiddie train had a 150-foot curved tunnel, bridge and elaborate depot for the 2,000-foot miniature railroad. The Ferris Wheel was “kiddie sized” with the riders locked into cages for the duration of the ride. The Handcars were self-propelled cars on little train tracks; a rider would sit on the car with their leg stretched forwards and their hands paddling a bicycle peddle-like device.

On the weekends, sometimes a small red fire engine with “Kiddy Town” written on its side would sound its loud siren telling all the children in the neighborhood that some lucky kid is having a birthday party and they’re all going to Kiddy Town. Their first ride, of course, would be in the fire truck. Each year in September the organization of the Bakers Club of Chicago would rent the whole park and treat as many as 500 orphaned children to a day at the park. Besides the rides and hot dogs, the children would receive specially baked cakes and cookies. Sometime in the early 1960’s, Kiddy Town closed down and sold all the rides.

As many other Chicagoland "Kiddie Parks," Kiddy Town had a fire truck which was used to pick up birthday party guests at their homes and deliver them to the amusement park. When the truck wasn't picking up party goers, it was used as a ride in the park. 

It was replaced by the Unity Saving Bank and their parking lot. Now the location is a Panera, Chipotle, Forever Yogurt, Red Robin Sports Authority, X-sport Fitness and Mattress Firm.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Visit the Gift Shop.

Photo by Carol Houfek.

Photo by Walter Rieger.
Photo by Carol Houfek.

Photo by Walter Rieger.

This photo was taken after Kiddy Town’s final season from the roof of the Wieboldt’s Department Store in the Harlem Irving Shopping Center. The last ride to be moved was the Little Dipper roller coaster. The Little Dipper was a mirror image of the Little Dipper at Kiddieland in Melrose Park, Illinois. Across Harlem Avenue at the top of the picture you can see Stark’s Warehouse (open 7 days a week). Stark’s had a warehouse of army surplus stuff to sell. You could spend hours looking at everything.
The last ride to be taking down and moved was the Little Dipper roller coaster in 1966. Hillcrest Park in Lemont, Illinois purchased it for $6,000.00 but it cost them $66,000.00 to move it. It reopened in 1967 in Hillcrest Park where it thrilled youngsters until that park closed in 2003. It was again moved and found new life as the Meteor in Little Amerricka in Marshall, Wisconsin. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Rosenberg Fountain "Hebe" in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois.

The Rosenberg Fountain is of the Greek goddesses of Mount Olympus "Hebe," sculpted by artist Franz Machtl.
{Hebe is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is a cupbearer to the gods, and myth holds that Apollo dismissed her after she indecently exposed her breasts while serving drinks. 
Zeus is the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek mythology and religion who ruled as King of the Gods of Mount Olympus. Hera is the goddess of women and marriage in Greek mythology and religion. She is the daughter of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Hera is married to her brother Zeus and is titled as the Queen of Heaven.}
While working as a newsboy in Chicago, Joseph Rosenberg (1848-1891) could never convince local merchants to spare him a drink of water. He vowed that if he were ever to become wealthy, he would create a fountain where newsboys could get a drink on a hot day.

Joseph Rosenberg was the son of Jacob Rosenberg, co-founder of Michael Reese Hospital and of Chicago’s first Jewish congregation, KAM Temple. After leaving Chicago and making his fortune in San Francisco, he left a $10,000 bequest for an ornamental drinking fountain to be erected on a prominent corner somewhere on the South Side of Chicago. 
The miniature Greek temple with fluted Doric columns was designed by Chicago-based architects Bauer & Hill serves as the base for the figure Hebe. It originally housed an illuminated fountain. The inscription reads, “Presented by Joseph Rosenberg San Francisco, Cal.” Rosenberg’s fountain was installed in 1893, two years after his death. The South Park Commissioners installed the fountain sculptor near Rosenberg’s childhood home close to Grant Park at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and East 11th Street.
The original conception for the sculpture was to depict Hebe in the nude. The executors of the will, however, were worried that some visitors might be offended, and they did not want to tarnish to the memory of Joseph Rosenberg. They thus decided to present the goddess in draped clothing. The female figure holds a cup in one hand and pitcher in the other - a pose consistent with many other neoclassical depictions of Hebe. In 2004, the Chicago Park District restored the Rosenberg Fountain and its sculpture. 

In 2004, the Chicago Park District restored the fountain and the sculpture that was cast in Munich, Germany. Artist Franz Machtl’s design features an 11-foot tall bronze figure depicting Hebe, daughter of Zeus and Hera. She is the Goddess of Youth and the Cupbearer to the Gods symbolizing rejuvenation. 

Today, this monument functions as an ornamental fountain, but no longer provides drinking water. 

The "Goddess of Youth" fountain in the Lincoln Park Conservatory also depicts the goddess Hebe.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Lost Towns of Illinois - Science, Illinois

Science, Illinois was a community in LaSalle County, Illinois, located along the bottomlands of the Illinois River, just south of modern day Utica. The Village of North Utica is the proper name of what is more commonly referred to as Utica. The earliest reference to Science, Illinois is in 1822 when plans for the development of the I & M Canal were conceived. 
The canal survey nine years later moved the canal terminus from Utica to Peru and then later to LaSalle. The relocation of the canal terminus away from Utica not only limited water and rail transportation but also the general growth of the community.

In November of 1836, the Deputy County Surveyor filed a plat map for Utica at the recorder’s office in LaSalle County with Science, Illinois being included.
Simon Crosiar’s sawmill, carding machine, warehouse, store, and dock were among the first business establishments. Other business establishments in the 1830s included Thomas Brown’s store (1836); George Armstrong’s tavern (1836); four frame buildings containing two stores, a warehouse, and tavern; and Norton and Steele’s cement plant (1838). The cement plant primarily manufactured cement used in the construction of the I & M Canal. Construction of the canal was temporarily suspended in 1841, and as a result, the cement company closed.
The cement plant was reopened in 1845 under the ownership of James Clark. The James Clark Cement Company was later changed to Utica Hydraulic Cement Company. In 1848, James Clark constructed a stone warehouse to store grain. Clark’s stone warehouse also served as a post office, general store, livery, and at the turn of the century, as a motorcar wash.

It is unclear when North Utica annexed Science, Illinois, but by 1950s Utica maps, Science is nowhere to be found.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.