Column: ‘The Secret History of Starlight Park’

Photo courtesy Thomas Casey

The East Bronx History Forum and the Huntington Free Library are pleased to announce the Forum will hold its 158th meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 8 p.m., with a Zoom presentation about “The Secret History of Starlight Park” by East Bronx History member Stephen Paul DeVillo.

Many Bronx “old-timers” cherish the memory of Freedomland USA, for being the first park dedicated to educational United States history and entertainment. However, the Bronx had an earlier entertainment chapter providing amusement rides alongside art, science and history, resulting in Starlight Park. The 1914 plan to host the Bronx International Exposition of Science, Arts and Industries along the Bronx River in West Farms was expected to be a permanent exposition. The transformation of this site provides a fascinating story that DeVillo will present from a lifetime walking and researching the Bronx River.

DeVillo is a lifelong Bronxite and a charter member of the East Bronx History Forum. He is a former development coordinator at the Bronx River Alliance and submitted many articles for their newsletters, resulting in his first book, “The Bronx River in History & Folklore.” In addition, DeVillo used his informative narrative style to weave a historical walking tour in his second book “The Bowery, the strange history of New York’s Oldest Street.”

“The Secret History of Starlight Park” will explore the site’s history as the exposition/amusement park and as an amusement destination prior to 1918, including a proposal to float a replica Half Moon in Bronx Lake and an idea to build a “temperance amusement park” on the site. DeVillo will offer a peek at the “Starlight Phase II” expansion project, expected to open next year.

Please join us and discover the history of Starlight Park and hear about the most recent changes and the future to the oldest amusement park of the Bronx. The East Bronx History Forum will post the login details on our web page at BronxNYC.com. Please help defray the cost of the meetings by using the donate button. We will meet online at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 20.

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