Bitter Lake’s Playland, ca. 1932
The Playland amusement park at the south end of Bitter Lake in Seattle entertained legions of youngsters and their elders for 30 years.
Special to The Seattle Times
THROUGH THIS newspaper’s many years of sponsoring and promoting events, “The Trojans Big Day” for July 5, 1932, was exceedingly spectacular. It drew more than 15,000 “youngsters” (mostly) to the then-but-2-year-old Playland amusement park at the south end of Bitter Lake, west of Aurora Avenue. The kids got in free and were also given tickets for 13 rides, although the event was so crowded that many could not use all their tickets.
Among the attractions forming long lines were the Giant Whirl, the Dodge ’Em, the Water Scooter, a miniature railway, the mysterious Ye Olde Mill and the Dipper, a sturdy roller-coaster famous throughout the Northwest for its thrills.
Pictured here is Playland’s huge Fun House with its comedic architecture. The silly and sensational attractions to ride inside — revolving barrels, spinning disks and Shoot the Chutes — were more free passages for limber young Trojans. On other Depression-era days it cost 15 cents to enter the Fun House, but not for long. Near midnight, Aug. 29, 1933, it burned to the ground.
Playland, however, kept providing fun through the summer of 1960. Its charms and thrills are, no doubt, still savored by many Pacific NW readers, including the trio of Playland experts in the “now” photo, posing with examples of chalkware, well-preserved prizes won at Playland concessions.
There’s an exhibit of the amusement park in the Shoreline Historical Museum. A visit to the museum is also recommended for its repeated showing of Greg Brotherton’s hourlong documentary “Finding Playland.” The museum (www.shorelinehistoricalmuseum.org) is at 18501 Linden Ave. N.
According to museum director Vicki Stiles, one folksy explanation for how Bitter Lake got its unsweetened name was that it lost a long and sour argument with its nearby neighbor, Haller Lake.
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.