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Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois

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Author Topic: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois  (Read 8514 times)
Desolate Angel
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« Reply #135 on: December 05, 2010, 05:41:09 am »

Old Chicago officially opened on June 26, 1975.  The amusement park boasted 31 rides, including a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, and an old Riverview favorite, the Rotor.  Shopping was available in over 100 specialty stores.  Entertainment was provided by circus acts and a Dixieland band.

Over 15,000 people turned out on opening day.  During the first few months, massive traffic jams backed up onto the Interstate.  Then things began to go wrong.

There wasn't any one reason.  Maybe the prices at the amusement park were too high--$2.95 for each of your kids was steep in 1975.  Maybe the shopping wasn't attractive enough--Old Chicago had plenty of boutique stores selling candy and costume jewelry and t-shirts, but no major department store.  Maybe it was the tragic accident, when a trapeze performer slipped and plunged to his death.

Probably the biggest factor was the rise of a competitor.  In 1976 Great America opened in Gurnee.  This was a huge, full-scale amusement park.  Now the 31 rides under the dome in Bolingbrook seemed pretty dinky.

Business at Old Chicago fell off.  The schedule was cut back, with the park closing on Monday and Tuesday.  The Illinois Central Railroad, a major investor, took control.  Stores began leaving.  In 1980 the whole thing closed.

So on this date in 1986, the wrecking ball descended on Old Chicago.  When all is said and done, maybe it was just ahead of its time.  Six years later, the Mall of America opened in Minnesota.

UNKNOWN CHICAGO SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times, February 4, 1986:8.
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