THE NEVER BUILT Woodlawn Amusement Park, Chicago, Illinois 1921
From the Economist Vol. 53 Jan. 1921 Chicago, Ill – The Woodlawn Amusement Co c/o Ralph C Harris Archt. 190 N State St., Chicago, Ill., will receive bids until Feb. 29 for an amusement park to include about 24 buildings on Milwaukee and Devon Avenues, in Chicago, estimated value of $400,000.
William Johnson as well as Paul Cooper were once part of Riverview. Paul Cooper in 1920-21 owned the amusement concession at Municipal Pier (later renamed Navy Pier). Cooper was at Sharpshooters Park (named Riverview Amusement Park in 1905) from the beginning in 1904, a concessionaire of Shooting the Rapids, a "Mill Chute" ride. In 1905, he and Johnson gained control of Riverview from the Schmidts, and there was animosity between the two factions until the Schmidts regain control and forced Cooper and Johnson out. Given this, Woodlawn was their attempt to become the new big Chicago Amusement park. If it had been built it may well have outlived Riverview.
The new Woodlawn Amusement Park was dedicated, Tuesday, February 1, 1921. William M. Johnson turned the first spadeful of earth, and Mrs. Johnson christened the park by breaking a bottle of fine wine. Fifteen automobile loads of friends attended the ceremony; afterward, there was a banquet at the Chicago Press Club, with music supplied by Paul Cooper's Municipal Pier dance orchestra.
Two weeks later, William M. Johnson suffered what Billboard trade magazine called "a nervous breakdown". Plans for Woodlawn Amusement Park ground to a sudden halt, never to be revived.
NOTES: The population was moving toward the Northwest Side where Woodlawn was to be located. One of Riverview's problems after WWII was that their customer base kept moving to the suburbs and didn't come back to Riverview, taking their Baby Boomer kids to suburban Kiddielands instead. Woodlawn would have been closer to the new suburbanites. Also, with the area around Woodlawn undeveloped in the 1920s and Depression '30s, it might have secured enough land for future expansion and been able to install 1960s and 70s theme park rides that Riverview didn't have the land for, Six Flags style; an 1800s railroad trains, log flumes rides, loop coasters, etc... Woodlawn could have been a Chicago-style Kennywood Park; a Riverview-era amusement park in Pittsburgh that still operates today.