Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Lunchtime Theater - A Journey Through the Geologic History of Illinois in 14 Chapters.


A Journey Through the Geologic History of Illinois in 14 Chapters.
Learn the history of Illinois as it changes from ancient tropical seas to towering swamps to a frozen Ice Age landscape.

Chapter 1 - The Ocean of Illinois

Chapter 2 - Early Ocean Life

Chapter 3 - Plate Tectonics

Chapter 4 - Geologic Materials

Chapter 5 - The Great Delta

Chapter 6 - Where Does Coal Come From

Chapter 7 - Geologic Layers of Illinois

Chapter 8 - Were Dinosaurs in Illinois

Chapter 9 - Ancient Rivers and Glaciers

Chapter 10 - The Illinois Glacier

Chapter 11 - The Wisconsin Glacier

Chapter 12 - Artifacts from the Illinois Ice Age

Chapter 13 - Impacts of Glacial Landforms

Chapter 14 - Warmer Climate Prairie Modern Illinois

Eldorado Illinois' Founding History.

The surveyor was Martin D. Gillett, and the plat was made on May 24, 1858 (It is in Section 21, Township 8, Range 7, East of the third principal meridian). Elderedo, which now is Eldorado, was named for its founders - Judge Samuel Elder, his son, William Elder, his grandson, Francis Marion Elder, and a neighbor, William Reed. 
The Interurban Train of Southern Illinois Railway and
Power Company Heading out from Eldorado to Carrier Mills
The post office was established on December 8, 1858, and Nathaniel Bramlet was the first postmaster. Early Elderedo had only three streets laid out. The State Road became State Street, Walnut Street, and West Street. The business houses were on State and Walnut Streets. The first businesses in Eldorado were started just before and in the Civil War period. Hiram Brown had the first dry-goods store on State Street. Tom Vaughn later built a general store, as did Cox and Elder, all on State Street. 

John H. Scott, a farmer, opened a general store in Eldorado after his return from war service. Scott also, with four others, organized a company and drilled the first oil well in the county. From 1896 to 1906, John H. Scott engaged in the business of selling buggies and light vehicles. 

The first general stores in Eldorado were owned by Nathaniel Bramlett and N. Webber. Each of these stores was started before the Civil War. In 1872, Choisser Bros. operated a livery stable and also ran a hack daily to Benton and return. Womack Bros, sold boots and shoes, hats, caps, family groceries, and a general line usually sold in such stores. The Eldorado Grange established a store in 1879, where they sold dry goods, notions, hats, caps, boots and shoes, trace lines, hardware, check lines, and farm implements.

In 1865, Doctor John F. Latham entered into a partnership with his brother, S. C. Latham, in the drug business under the firm name of Latham Bros., and advertised "we will respectfully inform the citizens of Eldorado and vicinity that we will keep constantly on hand a full stock of articles in the line of business which we will sell as cheap as any other druggist in southern Illinois." Cummins & Vaughn opened a "family" grocery store there in 1872.

Major William Elder built the first hotel. It furnished lodging for those who were employed building the railroads through the village. 

The original village was incorporated in 1870, with the following board of trustees: William Elder, president; James S. Neal, W. C. Wiedemann, J. N. Elder, and G. L. Eubanks, members. 

A. Ledvina was a carpenter, joiner, undertaker, and manufacturer and dealer of furniture. In 1887, Eldorado boasted two drug stores, four dry goods stores, five groceries, one clothing store, one hardware store, one stove and tin-ware shop, one harness shop, one jeweler, one foundry and machine shop, two sawmills, two millinery stores, two livery stables, three hotels, one lumber yard, and one spoke factory.

The most extensive business interests in Eldorado were those of the Burnetts. C. P. Burnett began a mercantile firm in 1871, with his brother-in-law under the name of Burnett & Musgrave. This firm continued until 1885, when Burnett opened his own general store. In 1889, he organized the firm of C. P. Burnett & Sons, taking in with him his sons, C. H., L. E., R. E., and C. P. In 1903, after the death of the elder Burnett, the business was incorporated and continued by the sons. The general merchandise store was divided into separate stores selling clothing, hardware, and groceries. It was in this business that the elder Burnett started the first bank; It was started by Burnett accepting sums of money from his customers merely for safe keeping for which he paid no interest. Out of this practice evolved a private bank which later was granted a charter as a state bank. Burnett owned large holdings in land and was interested in many other enterprises in and around Eldorado.

This settlement, by 1896, could boast of exceptional railroad facilities - The Illinois Central, The Louisville and Nashville, and The Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis. Like several other villages, when the railroad company placed the name on the station, the name was spelled Eldorado, instead of Elderedo, and it has been known by that name since that time. East Eldorado begins at First Street, and was added after the original village was platted. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Playland Amusement Park, at 79th Street and La Grange Road, Willow Springs, Illinois. 1950-1979

When Playland Amusement Park opened in mid-summer of 1950 it was in Willow Springs, Illinois which at that time was unincorporated. The area is now Justice, Illinois. The park was located where the Sterling Estates Mobile Home Park is currently. Only a maintenance building remains today which continues to be a maintenance and storage building for Sterling Estates.
The park was a kiddie park operated primarily by the Rocco family. There was free admission to the grounds but you paid-per-ride.
The Rocco's are perhaps best known for being the developers and manufacturers of the Flying Scooters ride. Playland Amusement Park was a small showcase for Bisch-Rocco's kiddie and adult rides.
There were also a number of ride concessionaires in later years, some who moved to Playland Amusement Park when Riverview Park closed, including one person affiliated with the Adventureland in Bloomingdale, Illinois (which was as advertised as Addison, Illinois).

The park itself was somewhat boomerang-shaped and looked more like a fair than an amusement park with dirt and gravel walkways, and no landscaping. The front and original section had mostly kiddie rides.
There was a great set of Lusse bumper cars and the chilling Pretzel Dark Ride. Also, this is where the last Bisch-Rocco Flying Saucer ride ran (a tilted, rotating platform with two additional platforms that rotated in the same direction, thus providing a whip sensation - see video below). A streamlined diesel train ran through a 300 foot tunnel.

Overall there were 30-40 rides during the parks life, including the Live Ponies, Kyle Express Train, Big Rocko, Octopus, Roller Coaster, Tea Cups, Carousel, Helicopters, Electric Street Cars, Lady Bugs, Little Rocko, Zig Zag, Ferris Wheel, Rollo Plane,Tilt-A-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Boat Ride, Jet Plane Ride, Swingin' Gym, Hand Cars, Sky Fighter Ride, Roto Whip, Cyclone, Mad Mouse, Zipper, Toboggan and the only Electric Bus Ride in the U.S.

The park closed quietly in 1979 with pressure from Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) expanding roadways. Sterling Estates desire to buy the property and the competition from Chicago's newest parks, Marriott's Great America and Old Chicago Amusement Park also made the decision an easy one.

Visit our Souvenir Shop on your way out.

Text from the Roller Coaster Database with editing by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


Playland Park 1969

Rare footage of Bisch-Rocco 'Flying Saucer' ride.
Ride example. Not from Playland.


The Lunchtime Theater - Exploring “The Devil in the White City." The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.


Exploring “The Devil in the White City." The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
[Runtime: 72 minutes]

Historian Tom Buettner discusses the question that often comes up about the 1893 World's Fair, “Did the events written about in Eric Larson’s bestselling book, 'The Devil in the White City,' actually happen?” In his nonfiction novel, Larson weaves a truth is stranger than fiction tale of Daniel Burnham, the brilliant architect who masterminded the construction of the great Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, and Henry H. Holmes, the prolific serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims.

But did the events that inspired 'The Devil in the White City' really happen? Using the research and visuals from the original program, plus information subsequently obtained, Buettner attempts to answer that question. This was a presentation from Monday, June 1, 2015, at the Kalamazoo, Michigan, Public Library. 

Plan of the First Fort Dearborn, drawn by John Whistler in 1808.

Click the Map for a Full Size View.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom (Amusement Park), Routes 83 and 38, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. 1975-1984

Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom & Castle of Toys was a combination toy store and kiddie amusement park in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois. It was located at the intersection of Routes 83 and 38 (Roosevelt Road) which is in the suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.
The Dispensa family operated a portable carnival business in the Chicago western suburbs before settling down to open a toy store, "Dispensa's Castle of Toys" in 1967. The kiddie amusement park, "Kiddie Kingdom," followed in 1975 when the Dispensa family opened a small amusement area next to the toy store when they decided to retire from the mobile carnival business.
They set up many of the carnival rides and offered family fun at a low cost. In the beginning the tickets cost 6-rides for a dollar.
The Kiddie Kingdom featured scaled-down rides designed for children under 12 years old. "Kiddie Parks" were a new innovation during the baby-boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, and remained popular into the 1970s. Kiddie Kingdom had, among other rides, an antique German carousel and a miniature train that circled the five-acre grounds.
The park was in operation until 1984 when along with Dispensa's Castle of Toys, they sold the land. There were no family members interested in taking over the businesses and the offer was quite good. At that time, the property was sold and the rides and attractions were auctioned off by Norton Auctioneers of Michigan Inc.
Click the Article to Read it.
The property was developed by the firm of Miglin-Beitler, and is now the home of the Oakbrook Terrace Tower. The only thing remaining from the Dispensa empire is a street leading to the Oakbrook Terrace Tower, which the developers kindly named "Castle Drive."

Visit our Souvenir Shop on your way out.

Read the Complete History of the Dispensa Carnivals, Castle of Toys and Kiddie Kingdom.


Dispensa's Castle of Toys TV Commercial circa 1970s

Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom TV Commercial 1981.


Log Cabin Inn, Pontiac, Illinois, on Route 4, later to become Route 66.

When Route 4, later to become Route 66 was re-positioned through Pontiac, Illinois in 1926, Joe and Victor "Babe" Seloti built a lunchroom and gas station and named it the Log Cabin Inn.
The Log Cabin was built of cedar telephone poles and seated 45 customers. The interior still has the original knotty pine walls.  In a small window lined building behind the restaurant, Joe would lure customers to watch with the aroma of his secret recipe beef and pork barbecue cooked on a big spit. Meanwhile "Babe" would be next door filling gas tanks and fixing flats.
In later years, Route 66 was made four lanes and relocated to the west side of the Log Cabin. the building was lifted up and turned around literally by horse power to face the new road. It was such an extraordinary event that hundreds from town came to watch.

When the "Talking Crow" arrived-no one remembers. An elderly judge presented Joe Seloti with a pet crow and Joe painstakingly taught the crow to talk. And talk he did! That crow could carry on a real conversation with a customer.  He was most chatty when Joe was cooking. The crow would demand something to eat and be very specific about it! Joe built a caged area near the BBQ spit behind the restaurant.
After a while, the "Talking Crow" became a popular roadside attraction. Customers would stop to get gas or a meal, hear the crow chattering away and go around back to investigate. During the summer months, beer drinkers would gather at picnic tables in the back. The "Talking Crow" would join them and became quite fond of malt liquor! Once meeting the bird, tourists would come back on their return trip hoping to converse again with the extraordinary creature. After charming hundreds of local and traveling folk over the years, the crow eventually passed away. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Complete History of Kiddieland in Melrose Park, Illinois. 1929-2009

In 1929, the year of the Great Depression, Arthur E. Fritz, like many other Americans, found himself in financial trouble.A builder/contractor by trade, Fritz was unable to collect payment for his work. He managed to pay all of his creditors and with the little money he had left, he purchased six ponies and offered rides to children.
Fritz felt that in spite of hard times, parents still would try to save a few dimes for a little family entertainment. His pony rides soon proved to be a popular attraction that allowed parents to forget their troubles temporarily while they watched their children smile and have a little fun.

Fritz thought about how to expand his operation. Upon learning that a local newspaper was giving away gasoline-powered miniature cars to children as subscription premiums, he noted the names and addresses of the individual winners and soon followed up with offers to purchase the miniature cars. These became an additional attraction, along with the increasingly popular Pony Rides.

By the mid-30s Fritz had given his little park a name "Kiddieland." This was before the era of the Kiddieland name being used for amusement parks for young children. It was the first known use of the name "Kiddieland." However, his attempt to register the trademark failed, the name eventually was used generically in reference to the type of park he envisioned - an amusement park with rides geared primarily toward children by the nature of their size and the speed and action of the mechanical rides.
Fritz set standards for operating a safe, friendly, good-valued and clean amusement park.
Art Fritz has been credited with "launching a whole new development in the outdoor amusement industry."  By 1940, Fritz had added the German Carousel, two Miniature Steam Locomotives, the Little Auto Ride, the Roto Whip in 1938, and a Ferris Wheel in 1940. 
The 1940s brought the era of World War II and as one might expect, delayed further growth and development at Kiddieland until the post war years. Still, Fritz believed parents always found a way to bring their children out to the Park to make some memories and escape their problems of the day.

By 1950, Fritz once again was expanding his dream of the perfect place for families to bring their children to have fun and laugh. Seven kiddie rides were added to the park; the Merry-Go-Round, a hand-carved wooden carousel that greeted guests as they enter the park and the Little Dipper, a small wooden roller coaster. Several maintenance and storage buildings were constructed as well. 
By this time Fritz's daughters and their spouses, the second generation, were well involved in the operation of the park and the growth and development of the park continued throughout the 1950s. Some existing rides were replaced with others.

In 1962, the original Pony Ring was removed and the Scooters were installed in its place, along with significant additional expansion to the park. By the late 60s, several thrill rides were purchased to appeal to older children and teenagers. Kiddieland was beginning its evolution into a family amusement park. At this time, Kiddieland was operating with about 20 rides and attractions. In 1967 Fritz died unexpectedly before he saw the Polyp, the last ride he purchased installed and operating at Kiddieland. 
Grandma Fritz (Anne) and the second generation continued to operate the park for the next ten years. Some of Fritz's grandchildren, the third generation, were also involved in the park's operation by this time.

In 1977, Kiddieland was purchased by three of Fritz's grandchildren and their spouses. Two of these families and their children, the fourth generation, were the Park's last owner/operators. The late 70's marked a change in the vision of Kiddieland's future. The growth and development was in the direction of "Fun for the Entire Family." Additions in 1978 and 79 included a game building and the Mushroom Ride.
Early in the 1980s, park growth and development continued with the addition of the ever popular Race-A-Bouts gasoline powered antique car ride that intertwined with the north loop of the train tracks and encompassed two small ponds. The original game building that was added in 1978 was replaced with a larger more accessible building, and the Volcano Play Center was designed and built. This area was a play area designed to help enhance a child's motor skills with net climbs, a ball crawl, tube slides along with a kid powered Raft Ride. These elements were built into and around a scaled down realistic replica of a volcano and also included one of the most remembered and mentioned Kiddieland ride, the Hand Cars. The last major addition to the park in the 80s was the Galleon a high swinging brightly lit pirate ship that was installed in 1986. Late in 1987, Anne Fritz, the wife of Kiddieland's founder, died.

The 1990s found the owner/operators of Kiddieland thinking bigger and wetter! Late summer of 1992 marked the premier of the single most ambitious project Kiddieland had ever undertaken. The Log Jammer, a log flume water ride designed and geared toward the whole family’s enjoyment, finds guests riding in large log boats on a fast paced winding river of water until they reach a lift that carries the log boats 35 feet above the racing waters. The logs then fall into a short elevated trough of water, which carries them to a peak before plunging them screaming down into a large pool of water, creating a giant splash before coasting around back to the station building. The station was recreated from a post and beam building that Art Fritz had dismantled and moved down to Kiddieland from northern Wisconsin.

In spring of 1995 some reshuffling was done to accommodate guests' wishes to have a bigger, better place to eat in the park. The Sky Fighter and the Umbrella Ride were relocated to the area previously used by the miniature gasoline powered Tractors in order to make room for a new Food Court.  At the same time other renovations included rebuilding the old Popcorn Stand into an all new Pizza Stand, rebuilding the old front game building so that it now houses the Water Race Game & Can Alley Games along with the Guest Services booth. 
Among its attractions was a fire engine, which was used to pick up birthday party guests at their homes and deliver them to the amusement park. 
The entire parking lot was repaved and all new parking lot lights were installed on the perimeter rather than down the center of the parking lots. In the spring of 1995, the The Pipeline was installed. The Pipeline was a water coaster ride that takes guests on a river of water, in a small life raft, through a large black tube that plunges them down almost 40 feet in total darkness, through twists and turns, dips and drops until they burst out of the tube onto a spray of water. The motions and feel of the Pipeline were truly like that of a roller coaster! 
The New Millennium found Kiddieland reaching for the sky with the addition of the Dip 'N Drop, the newest addition sits at the entrance of the Volcano Play Center. This fun-filled family ride seats our guests back-to-back and lifts them skyward giving them a crow’s nests view of the surrounding rides. The ride takes you through a series of ups and downs and gives you a weightless feeling as your seat drops out from beneath you.  Guest squeal with delight as they are bounced up and down.
In 2004, a dispute developed between Shirley and Glenn Rynes, who owned the land that Kiddieland occupies, and Ronald Rynes, Jr. and Cathy and Tom Norini, who owned the amusement park itself. The landowners sued the park owners, claiming that the park had an improper insurance policy and that fireworks were prohibited in the lease. The case was thrown out in a Cook County court and later in an appeals court.

In 2008 the Kiddie Swing ride was installed at the entrance to the Volcano Play Center next to the Dip 'N Drop.
The landowners declined to extend the lease on the land in early 2009. In late June 2010, it was announced that Kiddieland would be demolished, nine months after the park closed to the public. 

Kiddieland had over 30 rides and attractions and was Chicagoland's oldest family amusement park when it closed forever.

Visit our Souvenir Shop on your way out.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Lincoln Land Amusement Park, Effingham, Illinois. 1977-1988

After a years worth of telephone conversations, I was finally able to set up a meeting with Jim Mayhood, one of Gene Mayhood's (the owner) children, at the Genealogy Department of the Helen Matthes Library in Effingham on Saturday, November 2, 2013.

We chatted for just under an hour. He gave me a Lincoln Land Amusement Park Token. Jim and other siblings worked at the park over the years. "Open rain or shine."

The amusement park was open seven days a week between May 23rd and September 1st and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday's the rest of the year. The park was billed as the World's largest indoor amusement park with 100,000 square feet of entertainment.

"A land of thrills. A land of excitement. Lincoln Land offers entertainment the whole family will enjoy."

Eugene “Gene” Mayhood, a man with a lot of “get up and go” is the genius behind the building of the Lincoln Land Amusement Park in Effingham, Illinois.  Mayhood bought 30 acres of land in 1971. The only building on the land had previously been used as a livestock sale barn. Using that structure as a base, G. C. Murphey Co. and Eisner’s were the first two stores to open for business in 1972.

The opening of 26 other stores led Mayhood to purchase an additional 50 acres. J.C.Penney and 14 other stores opened at the mall in 1977. During the mall’s peak years, Mayhood also operated an indoor amusement park at the Lincoln Land Building, which is now an office/retail center. Mayhood sold the mall to New York-based Elart Corporation in 1988.

The completely enclosed and air-conditioned Lincoln Land amusement park offered free parking and admission. It housed a huge, full size Ferris wheel that nearly touched the ceiling, a large carousel, the scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, the casino ride, the hurricane, bumper cars, astro-liner and a moon walk, along with many other carnival type rides.
A section had over 80 arcade games and midway games of chance with prizes awarded; clown racers, hoop la toss, basketball, milk can softball, shoot-out-the-star, loads of skee-ball machines and a grand photo center.
There were 4 Food and Refreshment Areas and a special area for picnics. The park also had an auditorium that would seat 1,000 people that presented family shows and live entertainment.
There was a large stairway in the middle of the park. On the 2nd floor there was the Skate Land roller rink with a huge skating floor, the Country Club Miniature Golf Course with 18 holes and a game arcade.

Toddlers and young children could enjoy themselves in their own Kiddie Land which was a specially created playland giving kids the amusement park excitement they wanted and the safety parents demanded.

In the early 1980s, the building had 15 major rides. Lincoln Land is the main reason why there are thousands of parking spaces at Village Square Mall today, as the lot was packed nightly back in the 1970's and 80's.
Jim Mayhood told me the main reason that Lincoln Land Amusement Park closed was the drastic drop in guests and the increasing cost of operations.

Visit our Souvenir Shop on your way out.

Marshall Field Funds and Battles for “The Columbian Museum of Chicago” (The Field Museum of Natural History)

The Field Museum of Natural History was primarily an outgrowth of the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.
The first published suggestion that a museum should be formed as a result of the exposition was, in the opinion of Frederick J.V. Skiff, first Director of the Museum, an article by Professor F.W. Putnam in the Chicago Tribune of May 31, 1890. In that year and the following one, Putnam also addressed local bodies on this subject and his views were duly reported in the newspapers.

In 1891, Dr. G. Brown Goode, then in charge of the United States National Museum, while in Chicago to consult with the exposition directors regarding government exhibits, emphatically pointed out to J.W. Ellsworth, a member of the foreign affairs committee, the opportunity afforded by the Exposition to establish a great museum. Mr. Ellsworth became an enthusiastic advocate of the plan, and he was able to interest other committee members, including William T. Baker, chairman.

As a result, purchases made abroad by this committee, and those of equipment for some departments, were viewed partly in relation to their usefulness for a future museum. Early in 1892 an organization called the Columbian Historical Association was formed, at the suggestion of members of this committee, to take advantage of the privilege granted scientific societies to import exhibits free of duty. Funds contributed to this society by various individuals were regarded by Director Skiff as being the first actually given in behalf of the Museum.

In July 1893, a letter by S.C. Eastman, published in the Tribune and followed by strong editorials in other newspapers, called attention anew to the desirability of a museum and aroused much public interest. In recognition of this interest, a committee of three of the directors of the exposition called a public meeting “to adopt measures to establish in Chicago a great museum that shall be a fitting memorial of the World’s Columbian Exposition and a permanent advantage and honor to the city.” This meeting, held on August 7, 1893, was attended by about one hundred leading citizens. As a result of the meeting a committee was appointed to incorporate an institution such as had been projected.

Under the name of “The Columbian Museum of Chicago” application was made for incorporation, with sixty-five leading citizens as incorporators and fifteen as trustees. On September 16, 1893, a charter was applied for and granted. The object of the corporation was stated to be “the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge and the preservation and exhibition of objects illustrating art, archaeology, science and history.”

Meanwhile, officials of the exposition had become actively interested in the plan for the Museum, and began to solicit and procure from exhibitors gifts and transfers of desirable exhibits. Response to the requests generally was hearty, and material for the new Museum accumulated rapidly, On September 14 a communication from A.W. Manning of the Evening Post suggested that holders of exposition stock donate their shares to the Museum, and this suggestion brought ultimately, from about 1,100 persons, gifts of certificates totaling $1,500,000 in par value.

Thus, seemingly, progress was being rapidly and successfully made toward the establishment of a great museum. As time went on, however, and exhibits accumulated in large amount, it began to be realized that an adequate endowment to insure permanency to the institution was as yet far from being obtained. The countrywide financial stringency which developed to alarming proportions in 1894 was already beginning to be felt. Strenuous efforts which were made to raise the amount needed failed to give the hoped for results. By the middle of October, in the words of Director Skiff, “a period of discouragement came upon those at work for the Museum. Nothing but the faith, devotion and courage of a few men prevented the disintegration of the preliminary organization and the practical abandonment of the Museum enterprise.”

Among Chicago’s citizens in 1893 none stood higher in the confidence and esteem of the public than Marshall Field. Born in Conway, Mass., in 1835, Mr. Field in early life had come to Chicago. Here he advanced rapidly, until he had largely created and become the head of a great business which occupied a leading place in the city and attained world-wide fame.

Mr. Field was known to be favorable to all plans for increasing the cultural and educational facilities of Chicago. Moreover, it was known that any enterprise to which he set his hand would be given wholehearted and permanent support.

Therefore, on October 24, 1893, Edward E. Ayer, a member of the museum association finance committee, who later became the first President of the Museum and throughout his life remained one of its most ardent and able supporters, called up Mr. Field and set forth the peculiar opportunity which the World’s Columbian Exposition afforded to establish a great museum in the city. He called attention to the fact that no such institution as yet existed in Chicago, and pointed out that the opportunity to create through the acquisition of exhibits of the exposition was one that should not be allowed to lapse. At the end of the interview Mr. Field remained noncommittal but promised to consider the matter. It was evident that he wished to assure himself of the need, importance and desirability of the plan before committing himself to its support. His consideration quickly resulted in a favorable decision, and on October 26 he announced that he would contribute the sum of $1,000,000 for the establishment of the proposed museum.

The gratification of the committee on receiving this announcement can well be imagined. Everyone knew that it meant the success and permanence of a great museum for the city. It is doubtful if, up to that time, any museum had ever received so munificent a gift. As a single gift for museum purposes it shattered all precedents.

The establishment of the Museum this being assured, other contributors promptly appeared. George M. Pullman and Harlow N. Higinbotham each subscribed $100,000. Other contributors of funds included Mrs. Mary D. Sturges, the McCormick Estate, P. D. Armour, Martin A. Ryerson, R. T. Crane, A. A. Sprague and many other leading citizens. Their contributions, together with donations of exposition stock, totaled nearly one-half million dollars by the end of the following year.

These funds enabled purchases to be made of large collections or important exhibits that had been shown at the exposition. Such purchases included those the War natural history collection, the Tiffany collection of gems, the collection of pre-Columbian gold ornaments, the Hassler ethnological collection from Paraguay, collections representing Javanese, Samoan and Peruvian ethnology, and the Hagenbeck collection of about 600 ethnological objects from Africa, the South Sea Islands, British Columbia, et cetera.

A spirit of generous cooperation was aroused on all sides, and donations of exhibits and collections of great value were received in large numbers. Mr. Ayer presented his large anthropological collection, chiefly devoted to the ethnology of the North American Indian. The Museum acquired by purchase and by gift almost all the extensive collections made by the department of anthropology of the exposition. The technical and special collections made by the department of mines, mining and metallurgy of the exposition were presented, together with the exhibition cases, as were also collections from 130 exhibitors in the same department. From exhibitors in agriculture, forestry and manufactures departments of the exposition collections of timbers, oils, gums, resins, fibers, fruits, seeds and grains were contributed in so large quantity and variety as to insure for the first time in any general natural history museum the formation of an adequate department of botany.

Fights broke out that involved bitter differences of opinion over the city's lakefront: Should it be left pristine or dotted with cultural amenities?

Two local moguls squared off: Marshall Field, who made State Street the city's shopping rialto, on the side of a proposed museum, against Montgomery Ward, who made Chicago the hub of the mail-order industry and was a staunch protector of the city's lakefront as a public space.

Lawsuits involving arcane legal principles were accompanied by insults worthy of a guttersnipe. Ward's attorney accused Field of building a monument to himself, facetiously adding: "And being a poor man, he could not afford to pay for a site. Now it is proposed to secure a site from the city of Chicago by violating a trust."

That battle, which would ultimately outlive one of the combatants, began Oct. 27, 1893, when Field pledged to contribute $1 million toward a museum to permanently house exhibits from the World's Columbian Exposition, which was about to close. Field didn't court publicity.

Others involved in the project recognized that a famous name attracts others with money. So a year later, the museum was renamed the Field Columbian Museum, subsequently shortened to The Field Museum, changes that lived up to their promise. John G. Shedd, the second president of Marshall Field & Co., would endow the aquarium that sits alongside the Field Museum. Max Adler, vice president of Sears, Roebuck & Co., would do the same for the nearby planetarium.

More immediately, it put Field on a collision course with Ward, the self-described guardian angel of Chicago's lakefront.

The Field Museum was originally sited for the lake shore at Congress Parkway, and upon its announcement, Ward filed a lawsuit. He claimed that when he purchased nearby property, "he relied on plats ... in which appeared the words: 'Public ground, a common to remain forever open, clear and free from any buildings or other obstruction whatever.'" Still, Ward was open to compromise, tired after years of hectoring and suing the city to clean up what is now Grant Park, which was then little more than a dumping ground. If guaranteed that the museum would be a unique exception, Ward would drop his opposition.

But developers were rushing proposals to the park's commissioners, who turned down Ward's offer. The game was on.

The combatants were very different types. Field had a broad circle of friends, business associates and fellow philanthropists to support his fight for the museum. Ward was a loner who shunned social gatherings. 

Ward had one critical ally, however: time. Like a sports team, he could win by running out the clock.

Field, who died in 1906, left an additional bequest of $8 million for the museum, but his donation was contingent upon the city providing a site, free of charge and within six years of his death. Ward knew that if he could keep the project tied up in the courts until midnight Jan. 1, 1912, he would win.

Accordingly, the legal papers flew back and forth, accompanied by a war of words. Field's supporters played on the public's heartstrings. 

There were oddball legal maneuvers. The Illinois legislature passed a bill in 1903 enabling the park board to void Ward's easement on Grant Park, his legal right to have it free of buildings. "You can pass all the state legislation you want to," an aide to Ward responded, "but it will not be constitutional if Mr. Ward complains." Indeed, the Illinois Supreme Court sided with Ward, as it did on several occasions.

Stymied, the museum's partisans offered ways out of the deadlock. Stanley Field, Marshall Field's nephew and successor, lobbied the state legislature in 1910 on behalf of a bill that would grant the museum submerged land in Lake Michigan to fill in and build on the resulting island. The project was dubbed the Atlantis museum, but Ward vetoed it.

The park board offered a site in Garfield Park, and then an alternate one in Jackson Park, the site of the World's Fair that gave birth to the museum project. The clock was ticking down, and the museum trustees were about to settle for the latter offer. But at the last minute, the Illinois Central Railroad offered land at 12th Street upon which it had planned to build a terminal.

That is where the Field Museum of Natural History finally came to be built, starting in September 1911.

The battle of the Titans had ended in something of a draw. Field got his museum, albeit posthumously. Ward, who died in 1913, lived to see his lakefront still largely unspoiled. Chicagoans got both: a world-class museum and an incomparable shoreline.

Perhaps balancing the exhausting struggle that accompanied its birth, the Field Museum opened without fanfare May 2, 1921.

"The doors were simply opened at 2 o'clock and the first of the 8,000 guests entered," the Tribune observed. "Speeches and music would have been superfluous."

The Field Museum of Natural History was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. 

The Lunchtime Theater - Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition World's Fair. 1933


Chicago Century of Progress International Exposition World's Fair. 1933

 A Century of Progress International Exposition was the name of a World's Fair held in Chicago from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial. The theme of the fair was technological innovation. The fair's motto was "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms."

The architectural symbol was the Sky Ride, a transporter bridge perpendicular to the shore on which one could ride from one side of the fair to the other. The Sky Ride was designed by the bridge engineering firm Robinson & Steinman, that ferried people across the lagoon in the center of the fair. It was demolished after having carried 4.5 million riders during the run of the fair. The Sky Ride had an 1,850-foot span and two 628-feet tall towers, making it the most prominent structure at the fair. Suspended from the span, 215 feet above the ground, were rocket-shaped cars, each carrying 36 passengers. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hollywood Kiddieland, McCormick Boulevard and Devon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. 1949-1974

“Hollywood Kiddieland” was an amusement park located in the area we now know as “Lincoln Village,” which was on the Southeast side of McCormick Boulevard and Devon Avenue. 
Main Entrance.
Pony Rides
Edward "Buddy" Louis Klatzco’s parents, Louis & Mrs. Klatzco, and brother, Richard, opened Hollywood Kiddieland in 1949. When Buddy returned home, after serving in the Army during the Korean War, he started Hollywood Miniature Golf next to Hollywood Kiddieland, and added batting cages in 1966.

In 1955, the five Acciari brothers bought Hollywood Kiddieland from the Klazcos. Their purchase included 18 rides and the concession stands.

They added an arcade for the 1958 season. The Klazco family kept title of the land, plus the batting cages and miniature golf course.
The Klatzco family bought Novelty Golf and Games, in Lincolnwood in the mid-60sNovelty has two miniature golf courses and a 19th hole, which was like a pinball game where you would shoot your golf ball and win a free round of golf if the ball went into the hole in the center. The game room was packed full of pinball machines and later, video games, but it was a little on the small size. In later years, they built batting cages.
In the late 60s, Hollywood Kiddieland ride tickets cost 20¢ each or six for a dollar. At the opening of the season, Kiddieland offered free tickets in exchange for the cardboard caps from glass milk bottles. Mothers all over West Ridge, Rogers Park and surrounding communities saved bottle caps over the winter. Opening day saw record crowds of kids and their moms lining up at the ticket booths with their “pot-o-gold” ─ large bulging bags of milk bottle caps.
There were a couple of food concession stands and a small souvenir stand

As many other Chicagoland "Kiddie Parks," Hollywood Kiddieland 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. 

The Klatzco family closed Hollywood Kiddieland, the batting cages and the miniature golf course in 1975, but continued to run Novelty Golf and Games (still open at the Northwest corner of Devon and Lincoln Avenues in Lincolnwood, Illinois), where Buddy Klatzco was co-owner.

After the 25 year property lease expired in 1974, Hollywood Kiddieland was sold.
Visit our Souvenir Shop on your way out.