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A Brief History of Palisades Amusement Park

 Excerpted from the book
"Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories"

1High atop the New Jersey Palisades cliffs, located within the boroughs of Cliffside Park and Fort Lee, once stood the home of the famous Cyclone roller coaster, the Tunnel of Love and the world's largest salt water pool. The place was called Palisades Amusement Park and even today, over thirty years after it closed its gates, the Park is still warmly remembered.

In 1898, a New Jersey picnic grove became the catalyst for one of the greatest amusement parks of the century. What would later be known as Palisades Amusement Park, started out as an attraction for the local trolley company, designed to increase weekend ridership. It grew to be one of the world's most famous fun centers, achieving national prominence through the Freddy Cannon song, "Palisades Park".

Originally, it had been a simple picnic ground, with tables and benches, refreshment concessions and a breathtaking view of Manhattan. By 1908, it had added a carousel, various rides, a wild west show and numerous other attractions. It soon became a popular oasis for the turn-of-the-century populace.

In 1910, the property was purchased by Nicholas and Joseph Schenck, two brothers that were a major influence in the developing motion picture industry. In 1913, they constructed the world's largest outdoor salt water pool in the Park. The Schenck brothers built Palisades into an attraction which came to rival Coney Island. For nearly twenty-five years the Schencks transformed Palisades into a magical wonderland. In 1934 they sold their interests in the Park to two other enterprising brothers, Irving and Jack Rosenthal. The Rosenthals took the Park to new heights of popularity.

Palisades Amusement Park was host to Kings and Queens, rich and poor alike. At the famed open-air theater, top entertainers of the day performed for record crowds. During the Big Band era the talent included such classic performers as Benny Goodman's Big Band, Cab Calloway, Les Brown & His Orchestra, Harry James and The Dorsey Brothers.

The names of performers from the world of Pop and Rock reads like a Who's Who of musicians; Fabian, Chubby Checker, The Shirelles, The Chiffons, Leslie Gore, The Jackson Five, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, The Four Seasons, Bill Haley & The Comets, Bobby Rydell, Dion, Jackie Wilson, Neil Sedaka, Tony Orlando, Frankie Avalon, Little Anthony, Freddy Cannon, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Young Rascals, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Fifth Dimension and many more. It was host to the Little Miss America Pageant, the Miss American TeenAger contest, the Diaper Derby and many other diverse and interesting competitions.

Palisades finally closed its doors on September 12, 1971 to make room for high rise condominiums but the memories live on.



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