They might not have the original White City any more, but they could have something like it, if on a much smaller scale, at White City Amusement Park.
It opened in 1905 on fourteen acre former cornfield at 63rd Street and South Parkway (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive), in the Greater Grand Crossing and Woodlawn community areas, and it captured some of the zeitgeist of the original White City, with its Beaux Arts buildings and even a miniature grand basin of sorts that served as the landing pool for the park’s “Shoot the Chutes” ride.
White City even had an answer to the Eiffel Tower; a giant “Electric Tower” that could be seen from 15 miles away. It was a beacon to the masses, a shining sign that the happiness brought by that 1893 fair could still be found. There was a giant Ferris wheel too.
White City introduced the world to the Goodyear Blimp, which was first assembled at the park.
Among the many attractions White City offered: a Ballroom (featuring the “All-Star White City Orchestra”); a Casino; Chinese Theatre; White City Roller rink; Bowling Alley; a penny arcade; "Pep" Roller Coaster; Giant Racing Coaster; the Flash; Shoot the Chutes; the Canals of Venice (a pretty water ride); Water Scooters; Dodgem; Lindy Loop; Seaplane; Giant Ferris wheel; The Whip; a Miniature Railroad; and the House of a Thousand and One Troubles (fun house); Illusion Show; Freak Show; Midget City; Mechanical City; Hug House (fun house); Fire & Flame exhibition; Baseball Park and Athletic Field; Picnic grounds; A beer garden; There was a special section of the park devoted to kiddie rides. White City included a spacious outdoor theatre.
Similar action to the "Lindy Loop" ride.
The Mysterious Sensation (a fun house), in particular is one of the greatest novelties in the history of White City. It was likened to Riverview's Aladdin’s Castle and a Haunted House mixed together. It was billed as one of the most unique entertainment features ever exhibited anywhere.
There was free parking for 1000 motorcars. There were various concession stands around the park. One could pick out almost anything they want in the line of novelties, useful articles, and even edibles. They sold silk umbrellas, floor lamps, aluminum-ware, silverware, dolls, candy, bags and overnight cases, clocks, vases, glass wear, and other articles too numerous to classify.
But while the park did offer a happy diversion for many, it was for whites only – even as the neighborhood surrounding the park became increasingly populated by African Americans as a result of the Great Migration.
But the Depression, along with the ongoing problems from the fires of 1925 and 1927, had a very negative impact on White City. Although 1930 still wasn't too bad for White City, with each successive year, attendance declined, and by 1933, the company that operated it was unable to pay the taxes that were due, causing the park to be placed in receivership and closed in 1933.
The same anti-black policies that had beset the amusement park also applied to the roller rink at the park. The rink was still open, and during in the 1940s, it became the site of demonstrations and brawls as Blacks fought for their right to roller skate indoors.
In 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was involved in one of these rallies.
In 1946, the Congress of Racial Equality sued the management of the rink, saying it was violating the Illinois Civil Rights Law. Eventually, the White City roller rink (which was named White because of the million electric light bulbs) closed in 1949. The roller Rink changed its name to Park City and was desegregated. However, the Park City rink closed in 1958.
In the 1950s, the 694-unit Parkway Gardens housing project was built on the site.
Visit the Souvenir Shop.
White City Amusement Park Attractions
in 1905, the opening year, detailed PDF discriptions with photographs and illustrations.
- Automatic Vaudeville
- Beautiful Venice
- Boats and Gondolas
- Bumps, A New and Novel Pastime
- Camp of Gypsies
- Chinese Theatre
- College Inn Restaurant
- Cummins' Wild West Indian Congress
- Double Whirl Ride
- Electric Theatre [Moving Pictures]
- Fire Department
- Fire Show
- Flying Airships
- Fun Factory
- Gum Chewers [Zeno Gum Vending Machines]
- Infant Incubators
- Johnstown Flood
- Miniature Railroad
- Observation Wheel
- Over and Under the Sea
- Photograph Gallery [White City Photo Company]
- Puzzle Garden
- Scenic Railway
- Shooting the Chutes
- Simian City [aka: The Dog, Pony and Monkey Circus or The Animal Circus]
- Temple of Music
- The Midway
- Toboggan [aka: Figure 8 & Double Circle]
- White City's Hospital