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West View Park

West View Amuement Park in Pittsburgh, PA

West View Park was founded by Thomas M. (T.M.) Harton and opened on May 23, 1906. Harton was a Pittsburgh native that owned the T.M. Harton Company, an amusement enterprise. The company had been building amusement rides previous to West View Park and exclusively made the first rides in the park which were a carousel, the Mystic Chute mill ride, and a figure eight rollercoaster. The park’s open-air dance hall, “Danceland”, was also on of the first structures built. In the 1910, West View Park’s “Dips” coaster made its debut and was the first rollercoaster in Pennsylvania to have dips and drops over 50 feet. The park changed owners and rides over the years.

West View Park Dancing Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA

Danceland was a highlight for many with early acts such as Tommy Dorsey. Bobby Vinton competed in a Battle of the Bands at Danceland in 1960. The Rolling Stones played to a measly crowd of 400 on June 17, 1964 during their first American tour. The tickets cost $1.50, but many were admitted for free in order to fill the room. The following year, they returned to Pittsburgh after releasing their hit songs “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Get Off My Cloud”. They played to a crowd of over 9,000 at the Civic Arena.

The park was the last official trolley park in the United States. PAT Transit ended operations of the trolley lines that traveled to the park in September of 1965. The 1970’s were a difficult time for West View Park. Danceland burned to the ground in 1973 due to an electrical fire. The park also struggled to compete with Kennywood across town and other amusement parks with more impressive rides like Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

West View Park closed on September 5, 1977. The rides were dismantled and many found new homes at other amusement parks. The West View Shopping Plaza was built in 1981 on the land that once was West View Park. The park’s famous Dips rollercoaster has been replaced with a string of restaurants like Subway and Long John Silver’s. Giant Eagle now fills the space where the Racing Whippet coaster once stood. There are no traces of the park remaining on the site, but the entrance sign to the shopping center features a carousel horse to represent the history of the location. Some local businesses in the area have photographs and memorabilia from the past.

Article by Meg O’Malley 

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