White City (Chicago)

White City (sometimes listed as White City Amusement Park in print advertisements) was a recreational area located in the Greater Grand Crossing and Woodlawncommunity areas on the south side of Chicago from 1905 until the 1950s.[1] At the time of its opening, on May 26, 1905, it was claimed to be the largest park of its type in the United States.[2] It contributed to Chicago’s status as the city with the most amusement parks in the United States until 1908.[3] It eventually introduced the world to the Goodyear Blimp, which was first assembled at the park.[4]

For the 1893 White City, see World’s Columbian Exposition. For other parks, see White City (amusement parks).

White City (Chicago amusement park)
Top: Entrance under construction, c. 1905; Middle: At night, 1916: Bottom: Ballroom, 1915

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White City Features
Top: Exhibit, c. 1905; Middle: White Horse Tavern, 1905: Bottom: Children sitting in building, 1915

Time once used the park as point of reference for the city of Chicago.[5] The park was located at 63rd Street and South Park Avenue (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and covered fourteen acres of land with gardens and strolling paths. There were several buildings all lined with white lights, from which the park took its name. One of the buildings housed a ballroom with a dancefloor large enough for 1,000 dancers.[2] The park had a tower that could be seen for 15 miles (24.1 km).[4] The College Inn, a restaurant, could seat 2,500 diners at a time.[2] “White City” was also the name associated with the landscaping and architecture of the World’s Columbian Exposition, held near the same location in 1893 because the exhibition’s buildings used plaster of Paris and were painted a chalky white.[6][7] In its prime the park rivalled Coney Island as a model for worldwide amusement park architects, designers and planners.[8] There was no general admission ticket, and patrons purchased tickets to use each of the park’s features.[9]

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