Historic Places

White City

White City 1900

Lakeside Construction Company who planned and built Dreamland in New York City and was in the process of building White City in Chicago, purchased Manhattan Beach in 1900 in Collinwood on the Lake at Lake Shore Boulevard, starting at the eastern end of what is now Bratenahl. The park's arched entrance faced East 140th Street. Manhattan Beach was renamed White City, Amusement Park.

The park became totally transformed with the addition of various rides, theaters, and wild animal acts. In addition to swimming, attractions included a chute-the-cutes ride, a "Tokio" teahouse and sideshows featuring such acts as Bonavita the lion trainer, Madame Morelli the leopard trainer, Omar Sami and the Flying Lady and Bobby Mack and Dynamite his bucking donkey.

In the golden era of Cleveland’s amusement parks, White City Amusement Park was built to compete with the most successful Euclid Beach Park, located a mile to the east and was even served by the same streetcars. The LS&MS Collinwood station at 140th street also provided convenient access. Unlike Euclid Beach, White City charged an admission fee, which hurt business.

White City Amusement Park also adopted the ideas of Coney Island’s Dreamland Park by bringing in entertainers and celebrities to draw people. Cleveland suffered from a lack of star power and the Dreamland concept was unsuccessful.

Almost from the start, White City Amusement Park seemed plagued by a number of problems. One night in May 1906, during a violent electrical storm, the complex was hit by lightning and burned to the ground. It was reported that village elders disliked this gaudy establishment on their eastern border and apparently the dislike was shared by the Almighty.

In 1907, the "Last Days of Pompeii" was staged at the park, but not for long. A terrific wind and rainstorm made Pompeii fall, volcano and all. White City roofs were blown off and serious damage was done to the popular amusement place.

White City Entrance
White City Prominading
White City General View
White City 1900
Bobby Mack
Picnic Day
Scenic Railway

White City Amusement Park was closed in July 1908, due to problems such as trainers being mauled by some of the big cats, issues with the trolley line service that brought visitors to the park and competition from nearby Euclid Beach Park.

The park reopened as White City Beach, a beach only. With the approval of nearby residents, the Village of y worked out an agreement with the City of Cleveland that allowed the public to swim at White City Beach during daylight hours, provided that Cleveland build a fence between the beach and the residents' homes and erect clothes-changing tents to prevent displays of immodesty until a permanent bathhouse could be constructed.

The City of Cleveland built a sewer processing facility just to the east of the beach. Health officials were concerned about raw sewage being dumped into the lake near the beach and drinking water intakes. Instead of treating the sewage, the City of Cleveland built a big interceptor sewer to carry wastes farther east, where prevailing winds and lake currents would take the pollution safely away from the intakes.

The City of Cleveland transferred ownership of White City Beach to the Cleveland Regional Sewer District as a result of a court order in 1973. The sewer district's desire to land-bank the property until such time as it might be needed for the expansion of the adjacent treatment plant resulted in the termination of public access to the only lakefront park in Bratenahl.