The first black amusement park was established in Chicago. Joyland Park was established in 1923 by W.C.S. & S Amusement Company. The park operated until 1925. It was designed to entertain the growing number of blacks in the Bronzeville neighborhood.
The amusement park advertised, “come one, come all,” for free attractions with performances by the Joyland Jazzers and dance halls. The park would showcase a merry-go-round, Venetian swing, whip and Ferris wheel. It was called “a better alternative to the city cabarets,” though the owners of those venues would put up a fight against the new family-friendly parks. Some politicians and vaudeville owners lobbied against Joyland’s license renewals because it was taking away their local customers.
Though it only covered two acres of land, Joyland was one of the largest amusement parks in the United States that was owned and operated by African Americans. Among the founders of the park were Augustus Williams, who was the lead attorney for several cases related to Chicago’s 1919 race riots, Virgil Williams, Robert Abbot and editor Julius Taylor. Unfortunately, the park could not keep its doors open past two seasons. The doors closed to the public in 1925 for good.