by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The Fair Grounds Skating Rink opened in the old Machinery Hall in 1906 at the height of the roller skating fad that was sweeping the nation. Over 1,000 people were “on the floor” on opening night, and the rink was an immediate hit with the city’s “roller-maniacs.” Though apparently very popular, it closed rather suddenly in 1907 when it was discovered that the concessionaires were selling more than cold drinks to patrons — they had also been operating a prostitution business right there on the (city-owned) premises.
It wasn’t until 1921 that the rink re-opened (managed by a man who may well have been one of the guys who operated the lucrative illicit side-business back in the aughts). It seems to have closed again for a while and then re-re-opened sometime in the ’30s, a time when business was steady and booming. But, sadly, the building burned down in 1942. BUT, a new, flashier rink was built right away, near (…next to? …in?) the Cotton Bowl (the ad below mentions the Automobile Building), and this one lasted a good long time, until at least 1957.
So, 1906-1957, give or take a few years — not a bad run for roller skating in Fair Park (…unless you count the bleacher bordello and the fiery conflagration). All skate!
Sources & Notes
Top photo (of an attractive but unidentified couple) from eBay. Click it for a MUCH larger image (and check out the cool Fair Park Skating Rink logo to the right of the man’s head).
Postcard from the Watermelon Kid’s site, here. (It is also larger when clicked!)
Bottom image from eBay.
Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
[…] theaters and was in the general “amusements” business around town (he had run the Fair Grounds Skating Rink back in the aughts for a short while, until the place was shut down because of the discovery of a […]
[…] From last year, a look at the roller rink at Fair Park, which began its long history with a vice bust in 1907. Read the post “Skate Date!” here. […]
My sister and I went there regularly in the early 50s. I was 11-12 and the owner, Mr.Burt would let me sit in the office and watch TV with them.
It always felt odd to look out the window and see the Cotton Bowl.
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