Vintage photographs of roller coasters, spinning rides and water slides capture Dayton’s love of amusement parks.

Forest Park: From zoo to amusement park to shopping center

A potential redevelopment plan for Forest Park in Harrison Twp. is undetermined but its colorful history as a popular amusement park is set in stone.

NEW DETAILS: Could long-ago amusement park, retail center see new life?

Located on North Main Street, Forest Park opened in 1928 and housed a collection of animals captured on an African safari trip by Fred Patterson, son of NCR founder John Patterson, according to Dayton historian Curt Dalton. 

Forest Park, also known as Frankie's Forest Park, was located along North Main Street in Harrison Twp. During the 1950s the park had a roller coaster and an auto race track. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

The Great Depression made caring for the animals difficult and the zoo closed in 1935.

The park theme changed as did its name when Frankie’s Forest Park re-opened at the site. Visitors took rides on a Ferris wheel and spun on the merry-go-round. 

The Comet, a wooden roller coaster that operated until 1958,was the perfect background for pictures of auto racing on an oval track.

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»PHOTOS: When life was simpler at Dayton-area amusement parks

Dance floors, concessions and games were a draw for Daytonians according to County Corp., and the Fourth of July fireworks display drew crowds to the picnic area each summer.

The site was later developed into the Forest Park Plaza. It was razed in 2013.

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