"City's Amusement Park Pleases All," read the headline in the
Des Moines Register on June 6, 1915. It was referring to the opening of Riverview Park, at Sixth Avenue and Cornell Street. The park was started by several Des Moines businessmen, in particular Abe Frankle and later W. Earl Kooker, who aimed to create a Midwestern equivalent of New York's famed Coney Island.
Generations of Des Moines residents visited the park, which included not only amusement rides, but also a band shell, picnic grounds, swimming pool, and later the Riviera Ballroom, which featured the largest wooden dance floor in Iowa. A fire in 1933 destroyed the dance hall, fun house, restaurant, and old mill, but the park reopened a few days later. It remained a popular Des Moines attraction until 1973, when Adventureland Park opened in Altoona and siphoned business away from Riverview.
By 1978 Riverview had closed and some of its rides and games were moved to Adventureland. Many Des Moines residents still fondly recall their visits to the park. For a nostalgic virtual trip to Riverview, click on http://www.riverviewparkdsm.com/index.html.
The Des Moines Register and Leader, June 6, 1915.
Riverview Park: Playground of Des Moines, Des Moines, June 1917.
The Des Moines Register, June 20, 1933.