When Brooklynites think of summer days at an amusement park by the water, most turn their thoughts to Coney Island. However, 100 years ago, they might have been daydreaming about Canarsie’s Golden City Park. The popular yet often forgotten amusement park opened in the summer of 1907 to a crowd of 25,000.
Built at a cost of $1,000,000 by Warner’s Canarsie Amusement Company, the park relied on the recently extended railroad system to deliver daytrippers from all over the city. Park goers could expect traditional rides such as roller coasters, a merry-go-round, ferris wheels, and a haunted funhouse. They were also treated to some non-traditional rides such as the “Human Laundry” which took people through a wash cycle, including a spin dry and laundry chute.
The park’s most popular show, “The Robinson Crusoe Show,” was a 22 minute act inspired by the novel, staged at a cost of $60,000. Equally impressive was King Pharaoh, a horse billed as an animal with “the intelligence of a human being”, who wowed audiences by spelling and solving math problems. The audience also loved death-defying performers such as Arthur Holden, who twice a day dived from a height of 110 feet into a tub of water only 4 feet deep. If they weren’t attending a show or lining up for a ride, guests strolled through Japanese, German and Native American villages while listening to daily concerts performed by a 50 person band.
The park was already losing money when a 1934 fire damaged the park so badly that management refused to rebuild. Golden City sat unoccupied until 1939, when it was razed to clear space for the new Belt Parkway. The park is long gone, but need not be forgotten. Next time you’re visiting Canarsie Pier or driving down the parkway, take a moment and turn your thoughts to Golden City.
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