Friday, September 14, 2018

White City I, (1912-1918); Woodland Park, (1918-1921); White City II, (1921-1938), aka Dreamland Park, Springfield.

There were two amusement parks at 23rd Street and Capitol Avenue, in Springfield, Illinois, before the three Dreamland Parks. The first one was "White City" and then the short-lived "Woodland Park." The original White City was founded in 1912. It had a dance pavilion, baseball fields and other facilities but folded sometime before 1918. 

The second White City Park was located at 2425 East Cornell Avenue and opened in 1921. It was founded by Amos Duncan (1887-1945), a Black entrepreneur. The park had a roller coaster, a merry-go-round, a dance pavilion, and other kiddie attractions. It was popular with Negro residents of Springfield. 

The park was a major attraction for the black community during a time of segregation, as people came from as far as St. Louis and East St. Louis, arriving by rail, which ran directly into the park. The park catered to black organizations for picnics and festivals. Many activities took place on a regular basis, such as dances, live music, baseball games, rodeos, and picnics.

It's unsure exactly when the park's name was changed to Dreamland Park, which closed in the late 1930s during the Great Depression. 

Negro League baseball teams such as the Cincinnati Clowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers and the likes of Steel Arm Taylor and hall of fame pitcher Satchel Paige made several trips to play in Dreamland Park. 

The park became a major attraction, and large celebrations, lasting several days, were held on holidays such as the Fourth of July and Lincoln’s Birthday. By the mid-1930s, Dreamland Park started to decline as Amos Duncan ran into financial difficulties. 

Duncan sold the property to Ed White in 1938, but White was unable to successfully sustain the park.
The current Dreamland Park is located at 2300 Taylor Avenue and commemorates Duncan’s enterprise. It was added to the Springfield Park system in 1996. Land that was formerly Dreamland Park was dedicated by the Southeast High School to its new school grounds.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. I had never heard of this amusement park before. Thank you Neil.


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is RATED PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Advertisements, spammers and scammers will be removed.