Carnival Park was a public, family amusement park located on 13.5 acres between 14th and 16th, to the east and west, and Armstrong and Barnett Avenues to the north and south. The park operated from 1907-1911. During its relatively short life span, Carnival Park was described as being one of the greatest achievements of the city. The recently opened Intercity Viaduct used it as an inducement to ride the streetcar — a cool ride on a hot summer’s night.
The park opened May 7, 1907, and it operated for approximately two years as Carnival Park and was then leased to a carnival for another two years. Visitors enjoyed many attractions, including a carousel, boats, a skating rink, and a bandshell for concerts. John Steen, the park’s architect, filled the area with flowerbeds, statues, and winding walkways. The Lagoon, spanned by a bridge, was another prominent feature and provided a somewhat wet ending to the “Shoot the Chutes” ride. “Shoot the Chutes” also incorporated one of the best-remembered segments of the park: a very tall, brightly lit tower and “the pride of the park management.”
The demise of Carnival Park is one of the city’s biggest mysteries. No one seems to know exactly what happened to it and why it failed. Some attribute the failure to the fall of the tower due to a high wind. A roller rink adjacent to the tower was damaged by fire. Joseph T. Carey Sr., the son of Thomas Carey, a co-owner of the park, believes a great extent of the problem was caused by the prohibition of serving alcoholic beverages. The former Carnival Park site is now occupied by Ward Athletic Field.
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A small version of the 1893 Chicago Worlds fair.