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Central Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)

Central Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)

Location

Bethlehem PA United States


About Business

Central Park is a former amusement park the Rittersville section of Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was closed in 1951.HistoryCentral Park's origins date to 1868 when J. Frank Reichart laid out a race course north of the Allentown-Bethlehem turnpike (Hanover Avenue) which was opened for trotting and pacing from May to August. In 1872 the Rittersville Park Association was organized. The park was enlarged to 16 acres and was known as Manhattan Park.When the Allentown & Bethlehem Rapid Traction Company took ownership of the area from Thomas Ritter it was called The Greater Central Park. Included in the park was a menagerie with quite a collection of animals, including elephants.Central Park was what came to be called a "trolley car park." Trolley companies did a brisk business during the work week when people went to work but they struggled to get the public to use them on weekends. It was decided that having an amusement park to lure people out of town would increase weekend use, and as the public traveled they would go past building lots suitable for houses that belonged to a land development company that was a subsidiary to the trolley line.The park opened on 2 July 1893 as Rittersville Park, offering 40 acres of shady walks and ample park benches. It was built in a wooded area with picnic groves, walking paths, a few amusements, theaters and food stands. The first rides were a carousel, a toboggan chute, and the "Razzle-Dazzle". About 1898 the menagerie closed and the owner of the Manhattan Hotel bought two monkeys from the zoo keeper. Much to his dismay, one of the monkeys set fire to the hotel. It was rebuilt the same year. The new Manhattan Hotel was a place for the latest fashions to be seen by the great crowds that would come from as far away as Mauch Chunk and Philadelphia to the park which had one of the biggest outdoor theaters in Pennsylvania.


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