West Hartford History Series

Lecture: Luna Park

August 15, 2017
7:00 p.m.

West Hartford's original amusement park, Luna Park, is perhaps the most seasonally-appropriate topic for a summer lecture. Join the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society for an especially amusing lecture with historian Gene Leach on Tuesday, August 15 at 7 p.m. This talk on the short turbulent life of West Hartford's only amusement park will begin with the story of how and why such places got started at Coney Island in the 1890s. Dr. Leach will then describe in detail how West Hartford's Luna Park appeared in a corner of the Charter Oak Racetrack grounds, roughly where Home Depot now stands on New Park Avenue, in 1906. Photographs and postcards will illustrate the mechanical rides, games, shows, contests, and concessions that drew many thousands to Luna every summer – but never enough thousands to make the park profitable. A series of owners struggled to sell more tickets by remodeling the park from season to season. But respectable West Hartfordites never welcomed this risqué venue in their midst and finally, in 1910-1911, the hostility of town leaders contributed to shutting it down.

Gene Leach taught US history and American Studies at Trinity College until his retirement in 2012. He came to Trinity in 1975 with degrees from Harvard, Michigan, and Yale. He has served as director of American Studies, chair of the History Department, and director of the graduate programs in both fields. He is officer, writer, and volunteer for a number of organizations devoted to Connecticut history and culture. When asked he lectures and gives short courses on topics in Connecticut history and national cultural history. He is at work on a study of Lincoln's political philosophy.

This event is free to the public, but seating is limited. Reservations are recommended, available at noahwebster.yapsody.com

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