In July 1910, Edward Dilworth Latta opened Lakewood Park three miles northwest of Charlotte so that he could dismantle his Latta Park project and provide more residential land for the Dilworth suburb. Latta had an earthen dam built across a hollow and created a scenic lake, and he developed about ninety acres of land into an amusement park complex near the Chadwick-Hoskins Mill village. Touted as Charlotte's version of Coney Island, Lakewood included attractions like the city's first roller coaster, the largest carousel existing at the time in the United States, a shooting gallery, rowboats, a petting zoo, a dance hall, and a casino, pictured here in 1911. The park was developed on the Southern Public Utilities streetcar line that ran through the mill village, so it would be accessible for visitors by trolley.
The postcard insert from 1910 shows the lake and some of the park's visitors enjoying the amusements from the pavilion.
Another postcard from the same year shows a view of the pavilion in the lake that gave the park its name.
In 1911 James Buchanan Duke's interurban Piedmont and Northern Railroad took possession of the streetcar line to Lakewood Park, double-tracked it, and extended it. Latta had leased the park to Southern Public Utilities, and sold it to them outright in 1916. Duke Power later operated it until 1933, but in 1936 a tornado destroyed the dam and drained the lake. Repairs were never made, and the amusement park closed for good. Today it is nearly impossible to think that a lake once existed in this spot, although it is clear from looking closely nearby that water has changed the landscape. Lush trees and a power station sit where most of the main pavilion buildings once stood, and railroad tracks now run where the trolley tracks once did. The surrounding neighborhood is still called Lakewood, and nearby streets are still known as Parkway, Lakeview, and Parkside. The city has been considering a proposal to develop a greenway trail that would wind through the Lakewood community from downtown Charlotte.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass