- Palace Amusements
name =Palace Amusements
location= Asbury Park,
lat_degrees = | lat_minutes = | lat_seconds = | lat_direction =
long_degrees = | long_minutes = | long_seconds = | long_direction =
architect= Ernest Schnitzler, William B. Stoutcite web|url=http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/NJ/Monmouth/state.html|title=National Register of Historical Places - New Jersey (NJ), Monmouth County|date=2007-02-14|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
Official Website = [http://www.palaceamusements.com]
November 22, 2000
Palace Amusements was an historical indoor
amusement parkin Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA. Started Monday, Feb. 20, 1888, Ernest S. Schnitzler was soon placing advertisements in the city directory describing his pleasure palace as a place of "refined amusement for Ladies, Gents, and Children. Polite Attendants. First-Class Soda for sale in the Building." [http://www.savetillie.com/]
It was famous for having one of America's greatest hand-carved carousels, the three-row machine held 70 hand carved animals, of slender and stylized bodies, spirited expressions and elaborate trappings. Most were carved by Looff, but under the pressure of a delivery deadline, a few were purchased from the master carver Gustav Dentzel of Philadelphia.
In 1895, Schnitzler contracted with the Phoenix Iron and Bridge Company of Phoenixville, PA., to build a wheel that was 67 feet. It gave his passengers a view of the area, because at the top of the ride, they could debark onto a platform, climb a short flight of stairs, and from an observatory have unparalleled views Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, and the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years changes to the Ferris wheel were made, during the mid-1920s, saw the removal of the observatory owing to insurance concerns, and a reduction in the number of carriages from 20 to 18, owing to the tendency of carriages to lock together when they rocked. This ferris wheel carried passengers for more years than any other in history.
When Williams bought the Palace from Ernest Schnitzler in the mid-1920s, the arcade was a 100-foot by 153-foot rectangle, consisting of the original pavilion, the rotating wheel building, and the Crystal Maze building [mirror maze] . In large measure, Williams' success in keeping the Palace alive during the Depression owed a great deal to a designer, "Nick" Nichols, and a Polish carpenter remembered today only as Mr. D.
The first major innovation by Nichols and Mr. D was the construction of a steep, surprise filled Fun House rising all the way to the eaves of the Palace roof, flush along the northern wall of Ernest Schnitzler's original Victorian pavilion. It could be navigated, said Joe Travers, the Palace's chief mechanic in the late '30s and early 1940s, in 15 or 20 minutes, but at times, "sailors would come in with a girl and not come out for a half hour or more."
Nichols also appeared to have been a major player in the development of the first dark ride at the Palace. As dark rides go, the Palace was highly unusual. The dark ride was known as Ghost Town, featuring a series of spooky encounters and figures created by Nichols. One Nichols figure was a paper marché image of a barker, reputedly patterned after a local Asbury Park politician; another was a manufactured animation of a bulldog, dressed as an Asbury Park police chief with the title deliberately misspelled "The Cheef" on his hat.
This park was known for inspiring a generation of artists, photographers and songwriters (including
Bruce Springsteen). Thanks to its iconic wall murals, including a grinning fun face knowing as Tillie, the Palace was one of the most identifiable buildings on the Jersey Shore. Honored by a place on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, the Palace operated for 100 years (from 1888to 1988). Demolition, in 2004, came over the protest of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Asbury Park Historical Society, Preservation New Jersey, and the Save Tillie organization. Prior to demolition, Save Tillie rescued over 125 artifacts from inside the Palace, and three wall murals (including Tillie) that are now in storage, for reuse when a new building is constructed on the Palace site.
May 26, 2005, on the first anniversary of the destruction of the Palace, the Save Tillie group launched the official online museum.
* [http://www.palaceamusements.com Palace Amusements Museum]
* [http://www.side-o-lamb.com/Palace.html Photos of the now-demolished Palace Amusements]
* [http://www.savetillie.com/ Save Tillie]
* [http://www.asburyboardwalk.com/ The Asbury Park Boardwalk - Past and Present]
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