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White City Amusement Park, Chicago

"Opened in 1905, White City was one of the South Side's most popular entertainment venues. The amusement park, which for many years overshadowed the North Side's Riverview Park as the city's favorite, was located at 63rd Street and South Parkway (now Martin Luther King Drive). White City's front gate sat just a few steps from the South Side Elevated, which made the park an attraction not just for South Siders, but for West and North Siders as well. Brightly lit at night by thousands of lights, the park was a dazzling sight to behold. But patrons were equally taken with White City's enjoyable attractions, including several roller coasters, a chute-the-chutes, two ballrooms, inexpensive eats, and its landmark Electric Tower. Though parts of the park remained in operation into the 1950s, most of White City was shut down in 1934, when financial difficulties sent the park into bankruptcy. The park's name -- White City -- was a reference to the monumental, Beaux Arts architectural style of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park."

-- "Jazz Age Chicago," © 2000 by Scott A. Newman.

"In 1898, 1 year before the Chicago Lying-In Hospital nursery opened, Couney moved to the United States and had an incubator exhibit at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska. The infants for the exhibit allegedly were transported from Chicago to Omaha.

"In 1900 Couney went to Paris to exhibit at the World Exposition, returning to the United States to exhibit at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition the following year.

"At the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, Couney had an elaborate two-story building with an inner courtyard. Although it is not certain, the babies were probably exhibited on the first floor, while Couney and the nurses lived on the second floor of the building.

"Couney also exhibited at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915 in San Francisco, California. These were elaborate exhibitions, costing a great deal of money to build, considering that they were used for only 1 or 2 years at the most.

"Couney exhibited outside the United States at other world fairs too, including those held in South America and South Africa. In addition to these transient exhibits, he had several permanent summer exhibits that were much less elaborate than those he created for world fair audiences. His Coney Island New York exhibit, for example, existed with continuous summer operation (June through September) from 1903 until 1943, when public disinterest and World War II forced the show to close. He also had semi-permanent exhibits of the same type at Atlantic City, New Jersey, and for a shorter period of time, probably from 1912 to 1920, in Chicago’s White City amusement park."

-- "The Care of Premature Infants: Historical Perspective," by Dr. Lawrence M. Garner and Dr. Carol B. Gartner, Neonatal Intensive Care: A History of Excellence, NIH Publication No. 92-2786, October 1992.

"The Incubator Doctor has had a fair number of wealthy children in his charge. Twenty-five years ago, when he was operating a branch establishment at White City, he had on exhibition -- anonymously, of course, like all the other babies -- the daughter of James Keeley, the renowned editor of the Chicago Tribune. Keeley was very proud of her, Dr. Couney says, and used to bring most of the sub-editors of the Tribune out to White City to look at her. A couple of years ago, Dr. Couney received an announcement of her wedding."

-- "A Patron of the Preemies," by A. J. Liebling, The New Yorker, June 3, 1939, pages 20-24.

A view of the Baby Incubator pavilion at the White City amusement park, from an old postcard


Created 5/12/2007 / Last modified 5/12/2007
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