University of Masachusetts Press has posted my book on its website!
When Wonderland opened on some 25 acres of land near Revere Beach on May 30, 1906, it immediately outclassed every other amusement park in New England. It was bigger than any other, had the largest Shoot the Chutes ride (bought from the St. Louis World’s Fair of two years previously), a collection of brand-new rides, many of which had not yet been patented, a LaMarcus A. Thompson Scenic Railway, an Indian Village and Wild West Show, a Japanese Village, an Open-Air Circus with acts that changed weekly, a Wild Animal Show, and a Fighting the Flames show with real flames and actual firemen. The crowds on opening day would not be equaled at Revere for thirty years.
Wonderland re-invented itself every year, replacing old attractions with new ones and bring in the latest news-makers to perform for the public. It continued doing so for five years, finally closing at the end of the summer of 1910 (not 1911, as is often reported), then being dismantled.
It was assembled by a team of amateurs, but featured spectacular sights and experiences in its brief five-year run. Here, for the first time, is told the story of who put it together, how, and why. Here are the human stories of the managers, the inventors, the architects, and the performers who made Wonderland shine for its brief life, and the effect it had on their own lives.
Wonderland Main Entrance
The Beautiful Orient and the LaMarcus A. Thompson Scenic Railway
Panoramic View from the top of the Shoot the Chutes ride, looking east to the Ocean
The Descent into the Hell Gate ride
Inside Descent into the Hell Gate — Top View, sowing the spiral trough the water cars rode in
Side View of Descent into the Hell Gate, showing the slowly descending water trough and the sudden drop at the center below the tower
Map of Wonderland, with its central Lagoon and Shoot the Chutes ride. West is at the top
Backstage at Wonderland will probably be coming out in 2020, depending upon how things go. Steve will be delivering lectures on Wonderland at various places, including the Wilmington (MA) Public Library on July 11 and at the Revere Historical Society sometime in the spring of 2019. Come back for more updates