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Bathers at the Cascade in Starlight Park, 1921.

Starlight Park was an amusement park near West Farms Square on the Bronx River in the New York borough of The Bronx from 1918 to 1932.[1][2] It was first called "Exposition Park", as the grounds were originally laid out from 1917 to 1918 for the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries in 1918.[3] It was renamed shortly after the exposition's close.[1]

Starlight Park featured fireworks displays, a roller coaster, a swimming pool, and carnival games of skill and chance.[3] It also contained a stadium which was the home field of the New York Giants soccer team, but which also featured circuses, boxing and professional wrestling matches, and "midget auto racing". The 15,000-seat stadium came to be called the New York Coliseum (no relation to the building with that name in Columbus Circle). The stadium was originally built for the 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and was transported to 177th Street and Devoe Avenue in the Bronx in 1928.[4]

Starting in 1926, the park offered free programs of opera music in the summer, in an attempt to give the masses access to high culture at no cost. The shows were given in the open air until the Starlight Park Stadium was erected in 1928, and occurred in the stadium afterwards.[4] On Saturday nights, big band jazz played for dancers on an outdoor dancefloor. In its time, it was considered something of a "blue collar country club".[5]

For many years, one of the most popular attractions in the park was the submarine Holland. After being constructed by Irish-American inventor John Philip Holland in 1888, Holland became the first submarine commissioned by the United States Navy. She had been maintained by the Navy at Norfolk, Virginia for training purposes until 1914, when she became a museum ship in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. The submarine then moved to Starlight Park in 1918 and remained there until 1932, when she was disassembled for scrap as part of the entire park's demolition.[3]

In 1922, a roller coaster accident killed one rider.[6] In 1947, the stucco and wood bathing pavilion was destroyed by a fire.[7]

References

  1. ^ a b Futrell, Jim (2006). Amusement Parks of New York. Stackpole Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-8117-3262-2. http://www.google.com/books?id=MKOkQoVeGWAC.  
  2. ^ Ultan, Lloyd; Unger, Barbara (2000). Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough. Rutgers University Press. pp. 241. ISBN 0-8135-2863-1. http://www.google.com/books?id=2nurkL6vV8UC.  
  3. ^ a b c McNamara, John (1984). History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City. The Bronx: Bronx Historical Society. pp. 287, 314, 397–398. ISBN 0-94198-016-2. http://www.google.com/books?id=qUfosR3PMQoC.  
  4. ^ a b Twomey, Bill (2007). The Bronx: In Bits and Pieces. Rooftop Publishing. pp. 196–197. ISBN 1-60008-062-6. http://www.google.com/books?id=WeVTP3GyFH0C.  
  5. ^ Dunford, Judith (1995-08-13). "Remembrances of a War's End: The Real Starlight Park". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE4D6143DF930A2575BC0A963958260&scp=11&sq=%22starlight%20park%22&st=cse. Retrieved 2008-11-12.  
  6. ^ "Sifts Coaster Accident: District Attorney Seeks Two Workers at Starlight Park" (PDF). New York Times. 1922-05-23. pp. 36. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9C03E6D81339E133A25750C2A9639C946395D6CF&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2008-11-12.  
  7. ^ "2-Alarm Fire in Starlight Park". New York Times. 1947-10-23. p. 27. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70814FA385E17738DDDAA0A94D8415B8788F1D3&scp=7&sq=%22starlight%20park%22&st=cse. Retrieved 2008-11-12.  
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