Olympic Park Newark, NJ Amusement Park Billboard Poster For Sale
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Olympic Park Newark, NJ Amusement Park Billboard Poster:
Olympic Park Amusement Park located in Newark, NJ on the Maplewood, Irvington border. This poster is billboard size (estimated 15' x 40') and is in 8 pieces. The poster is in very good condition.
Olympic Parkoperated from 1887-1965.
The property that eventually became Olympic Park was purchased by John A. Becker, an affluent member of Newark’s German community. In December 1868 he purchased a small farm on Boyden Avenue from his father-in-law. Becker was captivated by the area’s wooded beauty surrounding his farm that he eventually purchased the surrounding wooded property.
In 1872 the Mutual Homestead Association, acquired 25 acres of farmland adjacent to Becker’s Woods to develop a housing tract of 170 sites. Becker, at the time, was president of the German organization which encouraged home ownership. Since the residents like to picnic in the nearby woods, Becker cleared a few acres and turned his woods into an amusement park. The park opened on May 8, 1887 with a nine-pin skittle bowling alley, rifle range, swings for the youngsters, an dancing pavilion and a saloon. The later in a one-story framed building was kept stocked with beer and wine. A small string band provided music for dancing. Becker’s son William managed the park for the first two seasons and built a baseball field.
Frank Buehler, who owned the German-American Brewing Company and the adjacent Germania Hall beer garden in Newark, leased the park for the 1889 season. However, after he was arrested for violating the Sunday law against selling liquor, he was forced to close the saloon, the park’s only money maker. His associate Louis Ort, took over the park for the 1890 season.
In 1897, Frank Buehler, Louis Schultz and Gustave A. Grub leased the park for the Becker heirs (Becker died in 1892) and renamed it Hilton Park. In 1899 they added a second ball field and bowling alley, enlarged the restaurant and added electric lights. Sacred concerts were scheduled on Sundays, but the musical offerings were varied from military bands to opera. Reaching the park was easier since the Irvington and Hilton trolley stopped directly opposite the park entrance and only cost a nickel from downtown Newark.
Hilton Park was one of the few amusement parks without mechanical rides in Essex County. The public didn’t seem to mind for they flocked to the park for its beautiful woods, grassy fields, soothing music, its delicatessen, and foamy steins of beer.
But times were changing and young people didn’t like the genteel Victorian ways of their parents. Once the mechanical rides at Coney Island in New York excited the public, they clamored for a similar exciting experience in their local parks throughout the nation. Newark was no exception and on Memorial Day 1903, Electric Park opened for business on South Orange Avenue in Newark. It featured a carousel, toboggan slide, old Mill ride, a dancing pavilion, open air theater, a menagerie (zoo), and an electric fountain, which gave the park its name.
To compete, Hiton Park was turned into a mechanical amusement park and renamed Olympic Park. It opened on May 28, 1904. Herman Schmidt, a 44-year-old businessman and his brother-in-law Christian Kurz, who owned a popular Springfield Avenue restaurant and beer garden, poured $20,000 into the venture. The park was named in honor of the Olympic Games held that year in St Louis. Its new imposing entrance with is four huge pillars had an electrified sign with the park’s name hung from the overhead arch. Just beyond were two large lion statues. Two thousand electric lights illuminated the park’s dense foliage and midway at night. (Stanton, Jeffery, National Amusement Park Historical Association)