In 1921, after a “spirited controversy” in which gambling, immoral shows and undesirable element coming to town, the Forest Park Village Council granted the Forest Park Amusement Park its license to operate another year.
According to the Forest Park Review’s front page story on May 28, 1921, the amusement park’s attorney, Charles Soelke, had taken out an injunction against the village to force them to renew the park’s license.
The Forest Park Amusement Park was located near present-day Desplaines Avenue and the Eisenhower Expressway from 1907until 1922. It featured many rides and roller coasters including the Wheel, Leap-the-Dips and the most famous, Giant Safety Coaster. The 22-acre park, located next to the cemeteries also featured games of chance, a beer garden, theater and dance shows.
A fire damaged much of the park in 1918, and in 1920 the 18th Amendment prohibited the sale of alcohol. Those two factors likely led to the closing the park a year after Prohibition became the law of the land.
In 1921, officials from the struggling amusement park were in front of the village council, defending their business and fighting for a license to operate for another year. The respected Mayor Kaul was at the helm and was not shy about showing his displeasure concerning “immoral actions” taking place at the park. The village council reluctantly issued the park’s license for $3,000 (adjusted for inflation, that would equal $36,500 today), with the expectation that the park would run in a “clean and orderly manner.”
Attorney Soelke recognized that the Amusement Park had some features that were different than any other business in town, including gambling which included “merchandise and candy wheels and other games of chance,” but he assured that, “we certainly would not tolerate any actual gambling.”
When the park was criticized for having “immoral shows,” the room became “spirited.” The park’s director defended the shows and stated, “They would be satisfied if the girls in the open air revue were permitted to wear their skirts at least as short as the girls do on Michigan Avenue.”
It was agreed by amusement park officials and the village council that the “undesirable element” that was coming into town was due to the “unusual condition all over the country,” rather than the Amusement Park itself.
In 1922, the Park closed. Some of the rides were salvaged and the park was abandoned. Several artifacts can be viewed at the Forest Park Historical Society Museum and Heritage Center at 1000 Elgin.