Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Hopkins Amusement Park, DeKalb, Illinois. (ca.1920-1968)

Hopkins Park was 32 acres at 1403 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, Illinois. Judge Jacob H. Hopkins donated the parkland to the city in 1893. The park was initially designed as a passive recreation space with walking paths, a bandshell, and a pond. 

In 1915, the park district added a swimming pool to Hopkins Park, a major draw for families during the summer months. In the early 1920s, the park began offering various other attractions, including a carousel, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel, a miniature train, and an 18-hole miniature golf course.
Hopkins Park Swimming Pool, ca. 1945.

The park also hosted various events, such as concerts, festivals, and corporate and family picnics.

Hopkins Amusement Park reached its peak of popularity in the 1950s. As the popularity of amusement parks began to decline in the 1960s, Hopkins Amusement Park began to fall on hard times.

Hopkins Amusement Park closed in 1968, and the park was eventually turned into a more traditional city park focusing on passive recreation. The rides were ultimately sold off.

However, the park retained some of its amusement park history, including the carousel, the bandshell, and the pond.

In 1989, the DeKalb Park District built a community center in Hopkins Park. The community center includes a swimming pool, a gymnasium, and meeting rooms. The community center is a popular spot for residents of DeKalb and the surrounding area, and it is also used by several local organizations.
Today's Hopkins Park Swimming Pool.

Hopkins Park is a valuable asset to the DeKalb community. The park provides various recreational opportunities for residents of all ages and is also a popular spot for special events. The park's history as an amusement park is a reminder of its rich history, and it is a testament to its ability to adapt to the community's changing needs.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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