Saturday, February 25, 2017

Historic Steps in John A. Roebling Memorial Park


                    This staircase was constructed circa 1889 by the Broad Street land Association in conjunction with the creation of Spring lake park on the bluff above.  The steps provided access from Spring Lake Park (1889 - 1906) and, later, White City Park (1907 - 1922) to Spring Lake.  Spring Lake Park was created as a passive recreation park.  A number of amusements sprang up over time.  The steps provided access for romantic walks around the lake or a boat ride on the lake.  White City Park opened as a full-fledged amusement park and was known as the "Coney Island of New Jersey".  Crowds numbering in the thousands were not uncommon.  The slope from top of the bluff along the entire amusement area down to the lake area was a green, lush park setting.  Park visitors looking for a break from the bustle of the amusement rides and attractions would descend to the lake for docile activities previously mentioned.  The building on the left at the top of the bluff - the farmhouse, circa 1820, of Issac DeCou who sold his land to the Broad Street Land Association - became the focal point in both parks as the Casino Restaurant.  It is commonly referred to as the White City Mansion.  It is a private residence.
          Lights were positioned on the staircase at the outer columns of the landing and on the columns at the bottom of the curved staircases.  The area of soil between the inner railings and the outer wall were filled with multi-colored flowers. Two large urns located next to the inner columns at the bottom of the staircases were also filled with flowers.  A flower bed extended around the bottom of the curved wall between the urns.  A banner advertising the Casino Restaurant was hung at the top of the curved wall.
          The section of the steps at the top of the slope have deteriorated and are covered by thick brush in warm weather months.  The newer concrete indicates those sections recently rebuilt by Mercer County to preserve this historic site.

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