Borough of West View

"A Good Place to Live"

West View Park

1906 to 1977

West View Park was located in West View Borough's valley along Rt. 19, just about 15 minutes north of the City of Pittsburgh. Park-goers coming from the city northbound on Perrysville Ave., would experienced a sharp horseshoe curve before descending into the valley and into the park. It was also one of many trolley parks in the nation, accessible to Pittsburgh streetcar travelers via the #10 West View route. The streetcar tracks ran across U.S. Route 19 and alongside the Dips coaster.

 

When Pittsburgh native T. M. Harton bought the land in the West View valley, it was nothing more than a swamp. He dammed the stream and turned the swamp into a 5-acre (20,000 m2) pond called Bellemere Lake, which was later renamed Lake Placid.

 

West View Park made its grand opening on May 23, 1906. The first rides were a carosel, a mill chute ride called the "Mystic Chute," and a figure eight roller coaster.  All of the rides were built by the T. M. Harton Company. Another attraction for the park's debut season was an open air dance hall. It was the largest dance hall in western Pennsylvania at that time. Rounding out the original layout of the park with a Penny Arcade, Pony Track, and rowboats on the small lake.

 

In 1907 a Katzenjammer Castle fun house and bandstand were added. Two years later, roller coaster designers Erwin and Edward Vettel developed an entirely new innovation in coasters, and the 1910s started out with a big bang for West View Park with the Dips.

In 1923 a second carousel was bought and the park now had 2 carousels. The Caterpillar ride was bought in 1924. For the 1925 season, a Skooter (Dodge ems, Bumper Cars) ride was bought. In 1927, the West View's largest ride was built, the Racing Whippet. It was a racing coaster, but in the middle, the 2 tracks separated and then came back together. The cars that started on the left side of the loading station would come back on the right side and vice-versa. This was considered one of the most exciting coasters in the world, only to be surpassed a few months later by the new Cyclone coaster at Coney Island. For 1928, the Speed-O-Plane was re-contoured with steeper drops and became the Greyhound.

 

In 1929, the Dips was re-contoured and turned into a standard wood coaster, with very steep drops and a famous banked, rising, and falling curve at the far end of the ride. Also in 1929, a tumble bug was added; The Cuddle Up was the last ride added before the depression.

 

In 1936, a Loop-O-Plane was bought from the Eyerly Company. A new maple floor was added to Danceland in 1937. During World War II the only major addition was asphalt paving on all paths in 1944. 1946 was a good year for West View with the purchase of a ferris wheel and a set of Flying Scooters from Bisch-Rocco, and a Miniature Railroad from National Amusement Device. For 1947, the Cuddle-Up was rebuilt and a Tilt-A-Whirl was added. In 1948, Danceland was enclosed and re-styled an  Art Deco Theme. In 1949, the Loop-O-Plane was replaced. Rides added in 1956 were a Round Up, Rock-O-Plane and Helicopter. As miniature golf became a fad in the early 1960s, the park built an 18-hole course in 1961. For 1962, The Ride-N-Laff was rebuilt. To try and attract more visitors, Arrow Antique Cars were added, and a 2-story Haunted House was built.

 

In 1964, the Boot Hill Walk Thru, Pirate Cave Dark Ride, and Fascination Building were built. On June 17 that year, with the British Invasion in full swing on the U.S. music scene, The Rolling Stones made an appearance at Danceland as part of their first U.S. tour on June 17, 1964. Streetcar service was dwindling quite noticeably in Pittsburgh during the 1960s. West View Park's last day as a "trolley park" was on September 4, 1965 as PAT Transit ceased operations on the #10 West View car route. West View was the last amusement park in the United States to be served by a trolley.

 

The first part of the decade saw the following new rides at West View Park: Double Ferris Wheel (lasted only one season, 1970), steam engine train (replacing the miniature train), Round-Up, Tempest (aka Meteor), Trabant, and Rock-O-Plane (replacing the Loop-O-Plane).

Over the years, parts of the 5-acre (20,000 m2) Lake Placid had been reduced to make room for new rides. By the early 70's, the remainder was filled in and the one-time swamp that began West View Park was no more.

 

On October 3, 1973, the Danceland dance hall burned to the ground and was not rebuilt.  With the introduction of Kennywood Parks first million-dollar ride in 1975, the Log Jammer, West View Park was doomed. It did not have enough money nor space to build new million-dollar rides that might have saved it. Other parks were spending millions changing their images every year, but West View was stuck with its old one.

 

1977 would become West View Park's swan song. A last attempt to save the park was re-themeing the Ride-N-Laff into Davey Jones Locker that year, but it was too late. On September 5, the park ended its 71st season; its patrons not knowing that they were riding their beloved Dips and Racing Whippet coasters for the very last time. Only 3½ weeks later on September 30, the T. M. Harton Company made the official announcement that West View Park would not reopen.

 

For the next few years, West View Park's dedicated patrons watched sadly as everything was taken down and either sold to other amusement parks or scrapped. The famous Dips roller coaster was one of the last rides to be dismantled.