Bathers at the Cascade in Starlight Park, 1921.
|Location||Bronx, New York, United States|
|Previous names||Exposition Park (during the 1918 Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries)|
Starlight Park was originally built for the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries, which was hosted in 1918, and as such the park was known as Exposition Park during that time. During its heyday, Starlight Park featured various amusement rides, as well as the Bronx Coliseum and the submarine Holland. The site is now occupied by a MTA Regional Bus Operations bus depot and a public park of the same name.
The park featured fireworks displays, a roller coaster, a swimming pool, and carnival games of skill and chance. It also contained a stadium which was the home field of the New York Giants soccer team, but which also featured circuses, boxing and professional wrestling matches, and "midget auto racing". The 15,000-seat stadium came to be called the New York Coliseum (no relation to the building with the same name at Columbus Circle in Manhattan). The stadium was originally built for the 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was transported to 177th Street and Devoe Avenue in the Bronx in 1928.
When Starlight Park originally opened in 1917, it was called Exposition Park. The grounds were originally laid out from 1917 to 1918 for the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries in 1918. The park was renamed shortly after the exposition's close.
The first summer music festival in Starlight Park was hosted in 1921. Starting in 1926, the park offered free programs of opera music in the summer, in an attempt to give the masses access to high culture at no cost. The shows were given in the open air until the Starlight Park Stadium was erected in 1928, and occurred in the stadium afterwards. On Saturday nights, big-band jazz played for dancers on an outdoor dance floor. In its time, it was considered something of a "blue collar country club".
For many years, one of the park's most popular attractions was the submarine Holland. After being constructed by Irish-American inventor John Philip Holland in 1888, the Holland became the first submarine commissioned by the United States Navy. She had been maintained by the navy at Norfolk, Virginia, for training purposes until 1914, when she became a museum ship in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, New Jersey. The submarine then moved to Starlight Park in 1918 and remained there until 1932, when she was disassembled for scrap as part of the entire park's demolition.
In 1922, a roller-coaster accident killed one rider.
Pedestrian bridge in unopened section of public park
|Location||West Farms, Bronx, New York City|
|Area||13 acres (5.3 ha)|
|Operated by||NYC Parks|
|Public transit access||Subway: to Whitlock Avenue, to West Farms Square–East Tremont Avenue|
Bus: Bx11, Bx36
A city park, operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was built in the late 1950s as part of the construction of the Sheridan Expressway. The highway was built parallel to the Bronx River on the former site of Starlight Park, which had been condemned to provide the right-of-way for both the Sheridan and Cross Bronx Expressways. As part of the project, a city park with the same name was created in its place, east of the expressway. The city park comprised land west and south of the original site of the amusement park, along both banks of the river.
In the 1990s, after Youth Ministries had made the state aware of pollution on the Bronx River, the New York state government started to clean up the river. Cleanup efforts were delayed when chemicals from an old gas plant at the site were discovered in 2003. As part of the plan to clean up the pollution, the New York State Department of Transportation agreed to rebuild the park and connect it to the Bronx River Greenway, a proposed waterfront path along the Bronx River. In 2013, after a 10-year renovation that cost $18 million, NYC Parks reopened a 13-acre (5.3 ha) section of the public park. Another 11-acre (4.5 ha) segment remained closed because of a disagreement with Amtrak, who owned the Northeast Corridor railroad tracks on the park's eastern edge. A $13 million environmentally-friendly headquarters for the Bronx River Alliance, described in The New York Times as "the greenest building in the South Bronx", opened within the park in 2016.
In 2017, an expansion of the new Starlight Park was announced. As part of this expansion, parts of the park would undergo environmental cleanups. The Phase 2 project would also connect Starlight Park to Concrete Plant Park south of Westchester Avenue via new bridges across the Bronx River and the Northeast Corridor. This coincided with another plan to downgrade Sheridan Expressway to a street-level boulevard so that the surrounding community could more easily access Starlight Park. As of 2017[update], the park was only accessible via the East 174th Street bridge that crosses both the expressway and the Bronx River. The project is expected to improve pedestrian safety and access to both Starlight Park and the Bronx River shoreline.
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