Map: LA’s strange and wonderful lost amusement parks

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S Main St & E Washington Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90015

There used to be a 35-acre amusement park in Historic South-Central, just south of Downtown LA. It began in 1887 as Washington Gardens, which hosted weekly variety shows, displayed various animals and a panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg, and eventually included an ostrich farm, according to the Downtown News.

Visitors arrived via a horse-drawn rail line from Downtown proper. The park’s pavilion burned down in 1887 and the park was little used again until 1899, when the Los Angeles County Improvement Co. leased the grounds and turned it into Chutes Park, with a baseball diamond for the new Los Angeles Angels and eventually the Vernon Tigers.

Beginning in late 1900, attractions began to sprout on the land: a vaudeville theater, a circus, hot air balloon rides, a miniature railroad, a rollercoaster, a giant boat waterslide, a merry-go-round, a seal pond, a monkey circus, a Temple of Mirth, and a daily reenactment of a Civil War sea battle. And still it fell on hard times.

It sold in 1910 and reopened in 1911 as Luna Park, with a new Nemo’s Trip to Slumberland attraction, which ran 600 feet along Main Street. That didn’t take either, and the site sold in 1912 to a group who wanted to make it into a park for African-Americans; that plan never got off the ground. Everything was torn down by 1914.

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