The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 April 2005

Fields of dreams

Local historian Pendleton Woods is doing a three-part series for the Mid-City Advocate (which, alas, won't be on their Web site) about Oklahoma City's original amusement park, the now-mostly-forgotten Delmar Garden, once characterized as "the most fabulous amusement area west of the Mississippi River."

The Garden, built in 1902, had carnival-type rides, a 3000-seat theatre (expanded from 1200), an outdoor amphitheatre, a dance hall, a swimming pool, a racetrack, a baseball park, and its own scenic railway. The 140-acre site southwest of downtown was right on the North Canadian River, which both added to its beauty and contributed to its demise: the river in those days tended to flood, and flood waters brought mosquitoes. Statehood in 1907 brought one other problem: Prohibition, which forced the closing of the Garden's tavern. The park shut down in 1910 — the railway continued for a couple more years — and the Farmers Market (now being renovated) was built on a section of the site in 1928. Today nothing remains of the original Garden except the name, which persists on a street leading from Reno into State Fair Park. But you can still see an image: the third-base entrance into SBC Bricktown Ballpark was, I am told, designed to resemble the old pavilion at Delmar. The Downtown Guy has posted some picture postcards to give you an idea of what it was like back then.

(St. Louis, you say? Well, yes, the principals in Delmar — John Sinopoulo and Joseph Marre — basically swiped the idea from what they'd seen in St Louis County, including the name. I'd like to think they improved on it.)

Posted at 7:34 PM to City Scene

I know Pen. Maybe I can work with him and the newspaper to post the article after a decent interval.

Posted by: Dan at 8:38 PM on 1 April 2005

Rotsa ruck. In 13 months the Advocate hasn't put anything on the Web other than a subscription offer.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:13 PM on 1 April 2005