Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition became the first world's fair to feature a separate amusement zone - the mile-long - Midway Plaisance. The Midway's gathering of diverse amusements in a single enclosure with an admission charge established the essential concept of the amusement park. Every fair and carnival since has had its own Midway.
In 1894 Boyton used that concept to open America's first modern amusement park, “Paul Boyton's Water Chutes” at 63rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue, near the site of the former World’s Fair Midway.
The amusement park idea spread rapidly across America in the next decade. At its peak, Coney Island had three major amusement parks; Chicago, in that same period, boasted no less than five.
It was, really, the only thing that could have killed the park, despite competition from newer parks like Riverview and White City. Chutes was still a moneymaker. Daily admissions ran as high as $28,000 to $30,000 ($825,000 daily today). In the 13 years that Chutes Park was in business, they paid out more than 500% in dividends (avg. 38.4615% per year) to its stockholders.
On April 22, 1908, the last remaining rides and fixtures of the park Paul Boyton had started were sold at auction. The Chicago Railways Company, which had foreclosed on the land, built trolly car barns on the site. Today it is still occupied by Chicago Railways' successor, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).
When it went out of business in 1908, Chutes park president Charles R. Frances was granted the concession to build Riverview Park's colossal Shoot-the-Chutes ride.
Copyright © 2013 Neil Gale. All Rights Reserved.
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