Published on November 7, 2014
Denver's Lakeside amusement park is a treasure chest of decorative design elements ranging from Beau Arts, Art Deco, and Mid Century Modern .
1. Photographed by: Amy Reinhold Denver’s Lakeside Amusement Park an exhilarating and fun-filled ride through expressive architectural design It debuted on Memorial Day in 1908 as White City, but Lakeside Amusement Park evolved and expanded over 50 years to reflect the defining styles of American popular culture. By: Rick Hill
2. Lakeside Amusement Park, west of downtown Denver, is one of the oldest continuously operating amusement parks in the United States. More than just a theme park, Lakeside is a preserved and protected symbol of gentler times, when amusement parks were cherished gardens of family entertainment and a place for safe risk-taking. Today, an informed exploration of Lakeside’s iconic concession stands, ticket booths and rides showcases Beaux Arts, Art Deco, and Mid-Century Modern architectural periods with icons borrowed from world expositions and fairs, and amusement parks of the era. White City, initially owned by Lakeside Realty & Amusement Company, was the brainchild of Adolph Zang. President of Zang Brewing Company, Zang sought a location just outside of Denver and beyond the reach of Denver liquor laws. The park originally consisted of a lake, restaurant, dance hall, speedway, theater and amusement rides – all inspired by the World Fairs of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Relationship of Lakeside design styles to major fairs and parks through the years “White City” was the name of the midway at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It became a popular name for amusement parks in the United States in the early 1900s because it evoked the Chicago Exposition’s Midway Plaisance, a grand avenue mix of amusements, sideshows, fakes, educational exhibits and the hootchy-cootchy. Plaisance means both pleasure and a pleasant place, particularly a secluded part of a garden laid out with walks, trees and ornaments. / Richard Crowther, Mid-Century Modern Ferris wheel ticket booth
3. / Tower of Jewels inspired by the 1901 Pan-American Exposition’s Electric Tower, designed by Edwin H. Moorman in the Beaux Arts style. A typical White City park featured a shoot-the-chutes boat water slide, roller coaster, midway, Ferris wheel (originally introduced at the 1893 Chicago Exposition), games, funhouse and a miniature railroad. Most amusement parks that followed the original White City’s lead – including Lakeside – mimicked the Beaux-Arts architectural style. Beaux Arts denotes the neoclassical architectural style taught at the École des Beaux- Arts in Paris. The style began to be used in public and institutional buildings in the U.S. around 1880. The 1893 Columbian Exposition was the first large-scale unified expression of the City Beautiful movement. Designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the exposition’s collective plan and architecture made a profound impact on American planning. The City Beautiful movement in general was characterized by order, harmony, and cultural parity and maintained that cities could be improved through beautification that would inspire the poor to good morals and civic loyalty. The success of Chicago’s exposition had a major impact. In 1901, shortly after the Spanish American War, the Pan-American Exposition debuted in Buffalo, New York. Its defining feature was an Electric Tower. Standing at 389 feet tall and studded with 44,000 lights, the Electric Tower symbolized the Age of Electricity. The use of architectural symbols like the Electric Tower prompted President William McKinley to call the expositions of the era “timekeepers of progress” and “storehouses of information.” The 1901 Exposition was a smashing success – it inspired Luna Park in Coney Island and set off a national race in amusement-park development that Adolf Zang soon joined.
4. Lakeside and early 20th Century World Fairs Lakeside, which took its design cues from Chicago’s White City, was built in the Beaux-Arts exposition style. Its centerpiece was called the Tower of Jewels and was inspired by the Electric Tower. Designed by Denver architect Edwin H. Moorman to stand at 150 tall with over 100,000 lights, the Tower of Jewels was one of the tallest buildings in Colorado when Lakeside first opened in 1908. A casino and theater operated in the tower’s base (which is still maintained as one of 15 original buildings), while the spotlight that sat atop the 1904 St. Louis Park Ferris wheel originally crowned it. The Casino Theater and Riviera ballroom, located south of the Tower of Jewels was home to concerts, plays, and dance marathons were held there while it was in operation. The park’s train added a miniature version of California Zephyr which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles with a stop at Denver’s Union Station. It was preceded by two miniature steam locomotives purchased from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. New Owner and a new renaissance In 1935, Ben Krasner, a Russian immigrant, along with several partners purchased Lakeside. Kranser had operated a concession in Lakeside since 1915. He ushered in a period of major renovations, incorporating many new features in the Art Deco style. In the U.S., the Art Deco style blossomed in the 1920s and 30s as an offshoot of Modernism. Order, color, and geometric and curvilinear forms marked the style’s sharply defined aesthetic. Krasner’s efforts played out at a dramatic time in American history. Lakeside thus reflects influences of the Roaring Twenties, the economic wounds of World War I and the Great Depression. Lakeside was also transformed by World War II and the austerity that marked the period. In 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, when reinvestment returned to Lakeside and to welcome a new market of post war young families, architect Richard L. Crowther was hired to build standalone ticket booths and to renovate the
5. Lakeside Ballroom. Crowther, who had previously worked for a neon sign manufacturer, revived the Art Deco design and updated it to the sensibilities of the 1940s and 1950s through the use of neon lights. As the American economy roared in the mid- 50s and early 60s, Crowther added Streamline Moderne and Mid-Century Modern buildings to Lakeside. Mid-Century Modern, a now trendy architectural, interior and graphic design style movement, is characterized by clean aesthetics and utility. Its architecture was often used in residential structures to make America’s post-war suburbs more modern. During this time period, Lakeside’s look wasn’t the only thing changing. The rides changed, too. Lee Ulrich Eyerly, an Oregon civil aviation engineer who devised inexpensive ways to train pilots after the depression, found that his flight training was more profitable in the development of exciting amusement park rides. He used his expertise to develop the Loop-O-Plane (1933), the Roll-O-Plane, and the Rock-O-Plane (1948), all of which found a home at Lakeside. Today, Lakeside is operated by Rhoda Krasner and Brenda Fishman, daughter and granddaughter of Ben Krasner. For generations, the Krasner family Nighttime at Rock-O-Plane / Rock O’ Plane, designed by aviation inventor Lee Ulrich Early, in the early 1950s.
6. has been a steward to Colorado family memories – Rocky Mountain summer evenings, rich with the aromas of hot dogs and cotton candy drifting through the air. Lakeside was a place for picnics, laughter, indulgent food, and safe risk-taking – a place for an innocent first kiss. In an age where the thrill of an O-Ride may have faded, Lakeside is still a jukebox wonder of ambient light and design styles reflective of all that is good about American culture.
7. / Merry Go Round Pavilion, designed by Richard Crowther. The Reporter Rick Hill is an international real estate planner living in Bardstown, KY. He has authored 151 strategic plans for a wide variety of mixed-use developments, urban districts, main streets, resorts, and destinations. His work experience includes strategies for 11 national parks; the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA; Coney Island Boardwalk in Brooklyn, NY; Isla Moda on the Persian Gulf, Dubai, UAE; La Paz Ranch in Malibu, CA; and Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita Mexico on the Pacific Ocean. He is currently working on the Wai Kai Lagoon in Oahu, Hawaii; the Wigwam Resort in Phoenix; and The Quarries in Bardstown, KY. jrichardhill.com The photographer Amy Reinhold’s passion is to create memorable stories for families and corporations through lighting, lens choice, composition and posing. Designing treasured portrait memories for children and families is her true passion. She also enjoys photographing portraits of people interacting within their environment for both journalistic and corporate advertising purposes. Some of her recent commercial work includes Switch Bowling in Dubai, and real estate photography in Malibu, Sedona, Disney World and Bardstown, KY. amyreinholdphotography.com
8. Prepared by J. Richard Hill & Co 105 Madison Avenue Bardstown, KY 40004 502-417-4361 [email protected] www.jrichardhill.com