Saturday, 28 January 2012

Pool postcard: Peony Park, Omaha, Nebraska

Sadly, this one has gone, and is a strip mall (shopping mall).

From Wikipedia:

Peony Park was an amusement park, founded in 1919. It closed in 1994.

The park was strictly segregated until 1963. Earlier, in 1955, the State of Nebraska took Peony Park to district court over its segregated swimming policy. In State of Nebraska v. Peony Park, the court found that under Nebraska Civil Rights Law Peony Park discriminated against African American swimmers at the Amateur Athletic Union Swimming Meet held at the park on August 27, 1955. During that event, two African American participants were barred from the meet because Peony Park barred them from pool. On September 7, 1955, the court fined Peony Park $50 and costs of the trial. Additional civil suits were settled out of court.
Continuing racial tension in Omaha led to the youth activists leading protests which brought down the color barrier at the park and added to the civil rights movement in the city. The Omaha Star newspaper made a name for itself during this period, mixing "light news" and entertainment with articles about the incident, segregationist policies around the city and the ongoing trial.

Water slides and pool - pool added 1926
The pool and surrounding sand beach occupied 4.5 acres (18,000 m2) of the park. Holding approximately five million gallons of filtered, chlorinated water, the seven hundred foot-long pool was supplied by spring water from artesian wells. The depth ranged from one foot to 10 feet (3.0 m).

Peony Park was home to three water slides. In 1983 there was an endurance competition in which the winner, a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, slid down the four-story water slide at Peony Park 1,710 times in 87 hours and 19 minutes. For winning he won $1,300, a 1950 vintage Coke machine, a moped, waterbed, stereo and other prizes offered by radio station Sweet 98 (KQKQ-FM), sponsor of the event.

Peony Park Today
The park was put up for sale in 1993 due to dwindling revenue and high operational costs. Many attempts to save the park and keep it open failed. The park had too short of a season and not a big enough population base to make a profit. A commercial land developer bought the land with plans to develop it into a shopping center. The park officially closed after the 1994 summer season.

Today, Peony Park is a strip mall with restaurants, a bank, and a grocery store. The only remaining structure from the original park still standing today is the Keno parlor and a short section of the original fence surrounding the park, left by the property owners as a tribute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! I have been looking for memories of the past and it was wonderful to find this on your blog!