THE END OF THE LINE (no pun intended)

Cemeteries and Amusement parks share a common geographic trait, that both were on the “end of the line” of street cars, “L” lines or interurbans. The owners of transportation companies realized that amusement parks could be a boon to weekend revenues.

Cemeteries on the other hand, often were at the end of the line, because as early as 1865, Chicago banned burials within the city limits, banishing cemeteries well out of the then city. Before motorized hearses, funerals to these outlying cemeteries depended on funeral trains and street cars for transportation.       Hearses pulled by horses did not fare well on long trips and muddy rutted roads.

There are several examples of cemeteries and amusement parks commingling with each other but not necessarily good neighbors.

FOREST PARK AMUSEMENT PARK was sandwiched between Waldheim and Concordia cemeteries at Des Plaines and Harrison within Chicago’s Forest Park suburb. Opened in 1908, it was served at the “end of line” Metroplitan West “L” line (Garfield Park branch, as well as surface line street cars and the Aurora and Elgin interurban rail line. Although it lasted until September of 1922, it was not a good neighbor to funerals within the adjoining cemeteries. The south end of the park is now the Eisenhower Expressway.


WOODLAWNS AMUSEMENT PARK planned and dedicated in 1921 (but never opened) just across the street from St Adalberts Cemetery on Milwaukee Avenue. It would have been just north of Devon (6400 north) and adjoining the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve on the end of the Milwaukee streetcar line. It was planned to compete with and seek revenge on Riverview Amusement Park at Belmont and Western. One of the principals of Woodlawns was Paul W. Cooper, a previous President and general managing officer of Riverview Park Company  ousted in a nasty court battle.


FERRIS PARK, another ill fated amusement park, planned by Charles Yerkes, an American financier and developer of Chicago’s rail system. Yerkes had the huge original Ferris Wheel for the World’s Exposition of 1893 moved to a quiet north side neighborhood, Clark street at about 2600 north which was his streetcar ”end of line” commonly called the “Limits”. The wheel operated for a few years before being dismantled and shipped to St. Louis. A Jewish cemetery, the first Mt. Mayriv was just blocks away at Belmont.

In the coming days, I will post a blog on each of these three parks and the cemeteries associated to them.

Both the cemeteries and the Amusement parks shared the “end of the line”



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