The Brookline Community/School Picnic
(1908-present)

West View Park Midway and the Racing Whippet   West View Lake and The Dips
The Racing Whippet, the Midway, The Dips and the lake were some of the feature attractions at West View Park.

A Neighborhood Tradition

Pittsburgh Trolley Parks       The First Brookline Picnic

West View Park (1909-1977)       Kennywood Park (1978-present)




Thrills, Chills and Good Times

Every June, at the end of the school year, the Brookline community holds it's annual community picnic at a local amusement park. The tradition dates back over 100 years to the early 1900s. The picnic is sponsored by the Brookline Chamber of Commerce. In the early days it was hosted by the Brookline Board of Trade and the Brookline Business Men's Association.

The first picnic was held in 1908 at Kennywood Park, located in West Mifflin. The following year, the venue was moved to West View Park in Bellevue. The picnic remained at West View until 1977, when the aging park closed. From 1978 to the present, the festivities have returned to Kennywood Park, the Roller Coaster Capital of the World.

Sign Pointing the way to West View Park.

Sign Pointing the way to Kennywood Park.

For many years, complimentary strips of tickets were handed out to all of the local students near the end of the school year. It was a moment eagerly anticipated. Additional ticket strips would be available at boulevard stores or at the park itself. Every ride cost a certain number of tickets, and you could save the leftovers for the next year. In simpler times, picnic day was more of a ritual event, and it seemed as if the entire community was present for the big day.

Complimentary School Ticket

Although the Coaster Capital title is in no way meant to signify that Kennywood can compare to mega-parks like Six Flags. But, as local amusement venues go, the historic trolley park ranks as one of the finest in the land. Today, every June, the good citizens of Brookline descend upon Kennywood Park for a day of thrills, chills and good times with friends and neighbors.




Trolley Parks

Kennywood Park (1898-present) and West View Park (1906-1977) were but two of several "trolley parks" established on or near the Pittsburgh Railways trolley lines. From the late 19th century through the mid 1950s, there were almost two dozen such parks in the Pittsburgh area, including Luna Park (1905-1909) in Oakland. They became very popular places for companies and communities to hold picnics due to the easy access via the rail service.

Trolleys at the entrance to West View Park.   Trolley at the entrance to Kennywood Park.
Pittsburgh Railways trolleys at the entrance to West View Park (left) and Kennywood Park (right).

Today, only Kennywood Park has survived. Designated a national historic landmark in 1987, Kennywood began as a picnic grove leased by the Monongahela Street Railway Company. Sold to private interests and chartered in 1906, the park has weathered the passing of time and kept pace with the advancements in the amusement industry. Kennywood's historic coasters are highly rated among roller coaster enthusiasts.

Although not considered a traditional trolley park, White Swan Park (1955-1989), located near the Greater Pittsburgh Airport was another popular location for family and school outings. Easily accessible along the newly constructed Parkway West, White Swan featured the Mad Mouse and a giant slide.

Tribune-Review article:
"Old-Fashioned Amusement Parks Once Beckoned, Have Nearly Vanished"

Entrance to Luna Park   Luna Park Shoot-The-Chute ride.
The grand entrance to Luna Park in Oakland and the popular Shoot-The-Chute splash ride.
The Lost Kennywood section of Kennywood Park is modeled after Luna Park and includes
the Pittsburg Plunge, an attraction reminiscent of the Shoot-The-Chute splash ride.

Other Western Pennsylvania parks that Brookline families often visit, with roots in the 19th century, are Idlewild Park (1878-present) and Conneaut Lake Park (1892-present). Idlewild, located near Ligonier, is the oldest amusement park in Pennsylvania. It has been rated the second-best children's park in the world. Conneaut Lake, located 96 miles north in Crawford County, is a popular vacation resort. The park features the recently renovated Blue Streak, the sixth oldest wooden coaster in the country, built in 1938.

Today, the three surviving parks give visitors a unique blend of both past and present. Kennywood and Idlewild are owned by Kennywood Entertainment, which until December 2007 was a closely held family business owned by the Henninger and McSwigan families. Kennywood Entertainment is now operated by Palace Entertainment, a subsidiary of Parques Reunidos, an international amusement park company based in Madrid, Spain. Conneaut Lake Park is owned by the Trustees of Conneaut Lake Park, Inc.

Kennywood Park
Website
Idlewild Park
Website
Conneaut Lake Park
Website




The First Brookline Community Picnic - 1908

One old-timer recalled the birth of the School Picnic.

"The community picnic has remained a feature in Brookline to this day, but it seems to have lost a little of the luster of the old days, when picnic day was generally the only day of the year that families would make the trip to the amusement park."

"In the old days, most people didn't have their own cars, or if they did the husbands used them to go to work. Families would meet on picnic day at one of the designated stops and board the streetcars for the long trip to the park."

"One of the big stops was Creedmoor Avenue. There would be hundreds of folks gathered there, all dressed up in summer clothes and carrying big baskets of picnic lunches."

"The first picnic Brookline ever had was at Kennywood Park. The only trouble with that was that it was so late for the kids getting home on the specials. By the evening, almost all the kids were tired, but no one was crying, because a young fellow named Joe Butch got up in the front of the street car and sang song after song. After that first attempt, the picnics were all held at West View Park, which a shorter trip from Brookline."

West View Park in 1912.

West View Park, which opened on May 23, 1906, was located on US Route 19 and accessible, right to the park entrance, via the 19-Bellevue trolley in about half the time. The price of admission was a nickel. The Brookline Board of Trade decided, in 1909, to move the Brookline community picnic to West View Park, beginning a long and memorable tradition that lasted for sixty-nine years.




Sixty-Nine Years at West View Park

West View Park Ad from the 1950s

Year after year, for nearly seven decades, Brookliners flocked to West View for Picnic Day. Kids waited with baited breath for their parents to get ready, and the lucky few rushed off to the nearest trolley stop to make an early trip with their friends.

West View Park opened for the first time on May 23, 1906. The park was constructed on a five-acre plot of land that was once a swamp. The owner, T. M. Harton, damned the stream and created a lake, called Lake Placid. Around this lake, Harton constructed the amusement park.

During the Golden Years of West View Park, the venue was well known for its thrilling rides, haunted houses, dance halls, tree-lined Midway and Kiddieland. The park had three roller coasters, The Dips and the Racing Whippet for those over the line, and the Little Dips located up on the hill in Kiddieland. For many years there was also the Greyhound, a wild-mouse type of coaster.

The Mystic Chute Ride at West View Park
The Mystic Chute Ride at West View Park.

A bridge over Lake Placid - 1913.   The Ballfield - 1913.
A bridge over Lake Placid and the ballfield are in 1913.

The main entrance to West View Park - 1915.   The Lake and The Dips - 1915.
The Main Entrance to West View Park, the West View Park Lake and The Dips in 1915.

West View Park in 1920.   West View Park Midway in 1942.
The Midway at West View Park was a popular meeting place for family and friends.

West View Park in 1974.   West View Park in 1974.
The pathway leading from Kiddieland to the main park complex in 1974.

West View Park - The Dips   West View Park - The Little Dips
The West View Park Dips, constructed in 1910 and shown here in 1925, was the first roller coaster in
Pennsylvania to feature dips and drops of over fifty feet. The Little Dips in Kiddieland, shown in
1971, were a great place for the little ones to experience a small piece of that magic.

West View Park - The Scooters   The Auto Ride in Kiddieland.
The Scooters and the Auto Ride in Kiddieland.

The Dips - 1948.   West View Park Midway - 1948
The Dips and The Midway in 1948.

The Midway at West View Park
The Midway at West View Park in 1920.

Other rides scattered throughout the park over the years were the Mystic Chute, The Caterpillar, The Tumble Bug, The Cuddle-Up, Ride-N-Laff, The Mirror Maze, The Whip, The Ferris Wheel, Scoota Boot Rides, Row-Boat Rides, Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Helicopters, Speed-O-Plane (later named the Greyhound), Loop-O-Plane, Chair-O-Plane, Rock-O-Plane, Flying Scooters, Round-Up, Alpine Sky Ride, the Haunted House, the Swings, the Antique Car Ride, the Merry-Go-Round, the Krazy Daizy Orbit, the Miniature Railroad and the Pony Rides in Kiddieland.

There were also the games on the Midway and in the Penny Arcade Pavilion, like skeeball and pinball games. They included the Milk Bottle Game, Huck La Buck, Penny Pitch and Dart Balloons. Other favorites were the Shooting Gallery and the Fish Pond. And, who can forget Davey Jones Locker and the Pirates Cave?

West View Park - The Trabant   West View Park - Krazy Daizy Orbit
The Trabant and Krazy Daizy Orbit.

West View Park - Loop-O-Plane   West View Park - Tilt-A-Whirl
The Loop-O-Plane and the Tilt-A-Whirl.

West View Park - Miniature Railroad   West View Park - Antique Cars
The West View Park Miniature Railroad and the Antique Cars.

The entrance to the Danceland pavilion.   The Dips
The entrance to the Danceland pavilion and The Dips.

The Games area and The Arcade   West View Park Midway
The Arcade building and The Midway.

West View Park - The Dips Devil's Bend
Who can forget the excitement in the car when arriving at the entrance
to the park and seeing the Devil's Bend of the Dips.

West View Park - Cafeteria   West View Park - Cafeteria
There was always plenty of good food to eat at West View Park.

West View's Lake Placid in 1913.   The Midway in the 1970s
Lake Placid in 1913 and the Midway in the 1970s.

West View Park Ferris Wheel   West View Park - Danceland
The West View Park Ferris Wheel and Danceland.

West View Park - The Racing Whippet   West View Park - The Dips
The Racing Whippet, Lake Placid and The Dips.

West View Park - The Dips   West View Park - The Haunted House
Riders waiting in line for the Dips and The Haunted House.

Dancing and roller skating in the West View ballroom were also very popular. Neon lighting and air conditioning were added in 1948, converting the dance pavilion into Danceland. Vaughn Monroe, Tex Beneke, Les Brown, Guy Lombardo, Harry James and the Dorseys appeared for one night stands before rock and roll and "Over-19" record dances appeared in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones played a show at Danceland during their first U.S. tour in 1964.

Ad for the Rolling Stones show.

An 18-hole miniature golf course was built in 1961, followed by popular new attractions like the Haunted House in 1963, and the Boot Hill walk-thru, Pirate Cave, and the Fascination Building in 1964. The Alpine Sky Ride, operated as a concession by its builder, John T. Gibbs, was added in 1965. A double ferris-wheel was added in 1970, along with the Tempest and the Trabant.

West View Park - Haunted House Car
One of the original Haunted House cars from West View Park.

West View Park Promotional Video
<1960s Promotional Video From West View Park>

West View Park Home Movie - 1960
<8mm West View Park home movie footage from 1960>

West View Park Home Movie - 1960
<8mm West View Park home movie footage from 1973>

Over the years, the small lake built by T.M. Harton was gradually filled in to create space for new attractions and parking. Trolley service to West View Park was discontinued in 1965, marking the official end of the trolley park era in the United States.

Then, in 1973, the venerable Danceland Pavilion was completely destroyed by fire and not rebuilt. After this tragedy, the decline of this once proud family park was swift. At the end of the 1977 season, Brookline patrons were shocked to hear that West View Park was closing permanently.

My recollections go back to the late 1960s when I was nearing ten. I don't remember much about Kiddieland but do recall the Little Dips and the kiddie cars that went in circles. As I got older my days were spent along the Midway with my friends. Riding the Dips was always my favorite, followed by the Racing Whippet. We'd ride them over and over.

West View Park Racing Whippet
The Racing Whippet. When first built in 1927, the Whippet was considered
by many to be the most exciting roller coaster in the world.

On the Alpine Sky Ride we could glide along above the Midway, hollering down to those we knew, or just admiring the view. The Bumper Cars, Haunted House, Davey Jones Locker and playing skeeball in the Arcade were also lots of fun.

At night, a ride on the Ferris Wheel was an opportunity to marvel at the beauty of the park with the lights on. Tradition dictated that we all got ice cream and then waited in line for a final ride on the Antique Cars. That tradition lasted until the summer of 1977. Those were fun times.

West View Park - Fountain and Antique Cars   The West View Park - Office
The Antique Cars, the Water Fountain and the West View Park office.

West View Park - Boot Hill   West View Park - Dancing Pavilion
Boot Hill was a scary place, and the Dancing Pavilion was a hopping place back in the old days.

The entrance to the Dips.   The boats on Lake Placid.
Eager riders stand at the entrance to the Dips (left) and boats on Lake Placid.

West View Park - The Ferris Wheel   West View Park - Danceland
The Ferris Wheel and Danceland.

West View Park - The Trabant
A nice view of some of the rides and attractions along the Midway, including the Trabant and sliding board.

West View Park may now be a relegated to the status of shopping center, but for generations of Pittsburghers, and we Brookliners in particular, it was a magical place full of fond memories. The legendary park may be gone but it will never be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have spent by-gone summer days wandering the Midway at the Brookline Community Picnic.

West View Park - Aerial View - 1939
An aerial view of West View Park from 1939.

West View Park - Aerial View - 1967
An aerial view of West View Park from 1967.

Wikipedia: West View Park.

West View Park - Real Fun, Fine Prizes

Newspaper clipping from 1954
Brookline Journal news clipping from June 1954.

Commemorative West View Park Plate
A commemorative West View Park plate from the early 1950s.

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Some Photos Of West View Park After Closing In 1977

The Arcade Building   The Dips and The Antique Car tracks
The Arcade Building, The Dips and The Antique Car tracks.

Davey Jones Locker   Boot Hill
Davey Jones Locker and Boot Hill.

The Dips   The Haunted House
The Dips and The Haunted House.

The Racing Whippet
The Racing Whippet.

The Midway   The Tumbling Ferris Wheel
The Midway and The Tumbling Ferris Wheel.

The Slide   The Bridge
The Slide and The Bridge.

The Caterpillar   The Walkway into West View Park.
The Caterpillar and the walkway into the park.

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The Demolition of West View Park (1979-1980)

The Dips in 1979   Tearing down the buildings along the Midway.
In 1979 the Dips were still standing, but other buildings along the Midway had been razed.

The Dips
The Dips were one of the last rides to be torn down.

The Kiddie Dips   By the end of 1980 the park was gone.
The Kiddie Dips were a favorite among young riders, but by the end of 1980 the little coaster was gone.

* Several of the West View Park photos are from the collection of John Schalcosky *




Kennywood Stationary from 1936

Kennywood Park - Home of the Thunderbolt

The Thunderbolt

It was the summer of 1978 and Pittsburgh was on the verge of being named the "City of Champions." Those of us who lived in Brookline were on the verge of our first trip to another place with a nickname. That year it was announced that the school picnic would be held at the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World." For many, this would be their first trip to Kennywood Park, and a few wondered if it would be equal to, greater than, or less than West View.

A General View of Kennywood Park in 1920   A rustic bridge in Kennywood Park.

Busses were chartered and the locals headed to the designated departure areas. Somehow, the thought of something new put a buzz in the air, and those who had experienced Kennywood before reassured everyone that this would be worth the trip. The skeptics soon found out what they had been missing. Kennywood turned out to be better and more exciting than West View, and a new chapter in the picnic tradition was born.

The Thunderbolt   The Sky Coaster
The Thunderbolt and the Sky Coaster.

Cinesphere   The Log Jammer
The old Cinesphere and the classic Log Jammer.

Kennywood Park is the home of the Thunderbolt (formerly the Pippen), the Jack Rabbit and the Racer. As technology moved into the age of the steel coasters, Kennywood added the Laser Loop, which ran from 1980 to 1990. The Loop was dismantled in favor of the lightning fast Steel Phantom, complete with loops and a top speed approaching 90 MPH. Renovation in 2001 transformed the Steel Phantom into the Phantom's Revenge, a smoother but no less speedy coaster. The Skyrocket, built in 2010, launches riders skyward and into a series of maximum-G pullouts. There is also the stomach churning Exterminator and the Lil' Phantom in Kiddieland.

The Enterprise   The Old Mill - A Historic Landmark

The Round-Up   The original Racer, built in 1910 and dismantled in 1926.
The Enterprise, The Old Mill, The Round-Up and The Original Racer.

This former trolley park is steeped with tradition, and boasts some rides that are nearing 100 years of age. The Whip and the Carousel, Noah's Ark and the Old Mill (now Garfield's Nightmare) are historic landmarks, and age has done nothing to dampen their charms. The Jack Rabbit was built in 1920, the Pippen in 1924, and the Racer in 1927. The Pippen was altered to produce the Thunderbolt in 1960, retaining much of the original track. The Auto Race, an amazing wooden race car track built in 1930, is the only one of its kind still in existence.

Noah's Ark   The Carousel - A Historic Landmark

The Log Jammer   The Pirate Ship
Noah's Ark, The Carousel, The Log Jammer and The Pirate Ship.

The passage of time and the need for space to build newer and grander attractions has relegated some of Kennywood's old rides the scrapyard or into storage. Gone are classic favorites like The Old Mill, The Enterprise, The Round-Up, The Gold Rush and The Turnpike.

On its 90th anniversary, Kennywood opened a new section called Lost Kennywood, dedicated to the rebirth of some of Kennywood's classic rides, like the Whip and the Bavarian Swings. The themed area is modeled after the long-lost Luna Park in Oakland. The Pittsburg Plunge is similar to the popular Shoot-The-Chute splash ride. At night, colorful lighting illuminates the large reflecting pool and is a wonderful place to relax and rest after a long day. Back in the bygone days, a large swimming pool stood in the area now occupied by Lost Kennywood.

The old Swimming Pool

The park management team does a good job of keeping up with the changes in the amusement industry and each season they seem to open up a new and exciting attraction. Rides like the Kennywood Arrow, the Sky Coaster, the Pit Fall, the Volcano, the Exterminator, the Bayern Curve and Garfield's Nightmare were added. The Sky Rocket coaster is the latest in the list of new thrill rides.

The Kennywood Railroad. The train was
brought to the park from the New York
World's Fair of 1939-1940, from the
Gimbels exhibit called 'Round the World'.
The Kennywood Railroad, built in 1945, uses locomotives from the 1939 World's Fair.

A Ski Lift called Kenny's Parkway now transports visitors to and from the upper parking lots. A leisurely round-trip ride gives riders a birds-eye view of the park as it slowly descends into the park. The additions are perfect compliments to age-old favorites like the Kangaroo Hop, the Paddle Boats, the Raging Rapids, the Log Jammer, the Turtle, the Bumper Cars, the Kennywood Railroad, and, of course, the classic Roller Coasters!

Kennywood Racer       Kennywood Jack Rabbit.
The Racer and The Jack Rabbit are classic roller coasters.

There are also plenty of games like the Cat Rack, and lots of places to get snacks, ice cream and hot meals. The Pavilion, the Pagoda, and the Potato Patch offer tasty delights, while live performers liven things up at the Kennywood stage.

The Potato Patch   The Pagoda.
The Potato Patch and the Pagoda are popular eaterys.

Each year, Brookliners prepare for that special June day. The kids are up early with anticipation of the thrills to come. The tickets are no longer free, but reasonably priced discount tickets are available at most Boulevard stores.

The new Kennywood Racer, built in 1927     The Pit Fall     Kenny Kangaroo
The Racer, The Pit Fall and the park's official mascot, Kenny Kangaroo.

The Brookline Community Picnic has always been one of the most anticipated days of the calendar year, and for good reason. It is one of those special days when Brookliners come together as one big family at one of the nicest family amusement parks in the country, Kennywood Park. As traditions go, "Kennywood Day" ranks as one of Brookline's finest.

The Phantom's Revenge
The sleek and speedy Phantom's Revenge can hit speeds of over 90mph.

Learn more about present-day Kennywood Park at www.kennywood.com.

Wikipedia: Kennywood Park.

<WTAE In Photos: Kennywood Now And Then>
(Contains over 100 vintage Kennywood Photos)

Kennywood Lake in the 1940s
The Lagoon at Kennywood Park is full of rowboats in this 1940s scene.

The Monongahela Monster   The Laser Loop
The Monongahela Monster and The Laser Loop.

The Aero 360   The Sky Rocket
The Aero 360 and the Sky Rocket.

The Flying Carpet   The Kangaroo Hop
The Flying Carpet and the simple-yet-effective Kangaroo Hop.

The Carousel   Chute The Chutes
The Carousel, a historic landmark, and Lost Kennywood's Chute the Chutes.

The Big Swings   Musik Express.
The Big Swings and the Musik Express, now called the Bayern Curve.

The Rockets   The Turtle.
The Rockets and The Turtle.

The Black Widow
The Black Widow.

Wipe Out   Phantoms Revenge.
The Wipe Out and a look back down the first rise on the Phantom's Revenge.

The Steel Phantom   The Old Mill.
The loops of the Steel Phantom and the historic Old Mill.

The Gran Prix   The Grand Prix Bumper Cars
The Gran Prix features the electric bumper cars, great for a good, jolting ride.

The Raging Rapids   The historic Whip
The Raging Rapids and The Whip, a historic landmark.

The Auto Race   The Grand Prix Bumper Cars
The Auto Race, built in 1930, is a time-honored classic and the Ghost Ship from days gone by.

Cowboy Joe   The Laughing Lady.
Cowboy Joe and the Laughing Lady.

The Kennywood Turnpike
The Kennywood Turnpike was a big hit for many years, oftentimes the last ride taken before going home.

Brookline History