Fallsers loved Woodside Park, a Coney Island-like amusement park in West Fairmount Park built by the Fairmount Park Transportation Company in 1897. Like Chestnut Hill and Willow Grove Parks, Woodside was built along a trolley route. Ten miles of trolley tracks surrounded it.
Woodside Park closed in 1955, but memories are still fresh and evocative …especially the route there…
I loved riding there on the open trolley through the woods when I had carfare. If not, we’d walk across the Falls Bridge, follow the tracks, cut through the bridge under the railroad to the woods, then on to the park. Safety in numbers… Loved their fireworks!!!!
On the last day of school at St. Bridget’s, the nuns handed you a strip of tickets for Woodside. We’d march down Stanton, across the bridge, through the tunnel to “Chamounix,” up the hill with a reservoir, along the path of the old park trolley, and through the tunnels to Woodside.
Oh what a wonderful place! You could drive yourself in a motorboat on the giant lake. You exited one of the funhouses by rolling down a giant carpet! In the shooting gallery you learned to shoot your first 22 rifle. Did you know the carousel is now in the Please Touch Museum?
June Drumheller Miller:
On Friday nights we sat on McKinstry’s front steps (on Conrad) to wait for the Woodside fireworks from 9:45 – 10 pm. McKinstry’s had six white stone steps – room enough for all the kids. As each firework burst open spectacularly in the summer sky, we shouted “Yaaay!”
Lucky me! My dad managed the big merry-go-round for 30 years so I had run of the park – I never paid. The carousel had beautiful flashing colored lights and real merry-go-round music. Sometimes I loaded the brass ring grabber.
As you entered Woodside, you’d get orangeade at the fresh orange stand. Three roller coasters! The giant Wild Cat was a mile high – or so it seemed. It climbed slowly up the wooden hill then raced down in 5 seconds! It ran crazy, throwing bodies all over – the best ride in the park, especially the front seat …Wowzzzzzzzz! The Tornado slammed you to the bottom with your body shaking – not for the light hearted. The Hummer was gentler.
The Fun House had air holes all over – large puffs of air shot out from the bottom and blow up the girl’s skirts… in front of everyone it happened!
Jack Steck, from WFIL Radio, emceed amateur and kiddie shows. Ballroom dancing was in a large, round building. Breyer’s and others gave free tickets and sponsored special days – even Orangeman’s Day!
Good years! Three summers I worked guessing people’s weight at a stand with a giant weight machine and cheap prizes in case we were wrong…