Saturday, January 8, 2011

West View Park Revisted


I haven't been home to Pittsburgh in a number of years and will be taking a train there next week. At the same time Jean and I are thinking of moving, and I have been going through a lot of belongings that I don't intend to relocate with. I came across some old black and white film shots taken in the seventies of West View amusement park in Pittsburgh before they tore it down. This park was the site of our yearly school picnic, and was loved by everyone. All things must pass as they say, and the park couldn't keep up with changing times. Folks back home might like to reminisce about the park so I'll print these out and take them on my trip.

The picture above is the main hill of The Dips. A creaky-clanky ride that inched up the steep hill seemingly taking forever to get to the top. Once at the top there was a brief moment where you were on top of the world, then only to have the bajeebus scared out of you on the down slop. The down slop was actually deeper than can be seen in the picture.


If I'm remembering correctly you just put a leather seat belt on and the hand rails you see above swung back to basically keep you in your seat. Of course if you were brave you wouldn't hold onto the hand rail. You would then get tossed about in the seat and smash into the person sitting next to you from the force of the turns.



The ride was definitely of another era. You can see the manual breaking lever to the left in the picture above and the break linkage. For me it looks Victorian or what is now called Steampunk.


The shot above is the entry point to The Dips. I remember my first time waiting in line to get on the ride. I was hoping they would close for lunch before I got there. It was agonizing waiting and waiting and I just didn't want to be there. I couldn't leave for fear of being laughed at. So I chose the less of two fears and stayed in line. It wasn't bad... if you don't mind the feeling of your stomach floating out of your body.... or something like that.

 

The park itself was around a mile or so long carved out of a valley. Originally there was a lake/swap area that The Dips went around and on top of as it meandered its way back to its debarking point. The swap was eventually filled in to make way for more rides, but the park just didn't have the space to keep up with the million dollar rides that were becoming vogue at other parks.

The shot above shows The Dips in the background and The Haunted House on the right. You can also see the Alpine Ride towers on the left and the arcades in the center of the picture.


 Then there was The Racing Whipit! It had some dips but was really known for a lot of sharp turns and for speed. Two sets of cars 'raced' to get to the end. You could actually shout 'losers' to the people in the other set of cars when the cars ran along side by side.... as though you really had any control over who was going to 'win' the race to the end.

The image above shows the overgrown vegetation on the bottom of the track. The park had been abandoned for several years when I took these pictures. You could walk all of the place and do just about anything you wanted. I guess it was impossible to fence it all off. Remarkably I don't recall seeing any vandalism, graffiti or other signs of abuse. I'm sure some items were stolen.

In the shot below you can see the two sets of cars poised for the next race that never happened, and the track's hair pin turns in the background.



 I used Photoshop and Topaz plugins to colorize and abstract the images. I love Topaz. It enables infinite control to adjust any image to any feeling I want to create.

6 comments:

  1. These are really beautiful! Thanks for sharing, brings back a lot of fun memories!

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  2. Thanks Jim. Great photos. I'm old enough to remember the "speedboats" that were slower than a rowboat in the lake. A favorite ride because Little I was in control.

    -Herb Ziegler

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  3. Thanks so much, I truly enjoyed all the pictures you lovingly took the time to share with all the folks wanting to take one more ride. This park was before it's time and all of us fortunate to still have the memories are well aware of there value.

    LMM (Penn Hills Pa.)

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  4. Thank you so much, Jim! West View Park was a significant part of my childhood. Sadly, there are very few images available of the park as it once was. For years I have been scouring the Internet for "fresh" West View Park pictures. This is quite a find! I love what you have done in terms of colorizing and just want you to know how very much I appreciate your sharing these images.

    Kenny Lee Karpinski
    Former Pittsburgher

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  5. Are there any rides form the park still operating anywhere? Is there any piece of the park still there, even a bench or steps or anything? Thanks!

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  6. I don't there is anything left there. The whole area was stripmall-ized. It stood for many years abandoned. That's when I took the pics.

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