Forest City Park

By John Frato, Carousel Operations Coordinator, Cleveland History Center


Opening in 1883 twelve years before the first customer walked through the entrance gate of Euclid Beach, Forest City Park was originally named Beyerle Park after its first owner George William Beyerle. It was located in the area of Cleveland identified today as Slavic Village in the southeastern section of the city. As with many parks that opened during this time period, the plan was to create a summer resort. Beyerle Park was a place where people could get away from the hectic city life and enjoy themselves without traveling outside the city. During its initial years of operation, no amusement rides were added. The park’s landscaped grounds featured picnic areas, a manmade lake with a boathouse, baseball grounds, an entertainment pavilion, and even a small zoo.

Beyerle Park Lake and Overlook Bridge. Photo Nagode Collection


The name of the park was officially changed to Forest City Park when A.B. Schwab and his partners took over the operation of the park on May 5, 1895. The change in ownership and name change occurred a mere six weeks before the newly built Euclid Beach Park’s inaugural opening day on June 22, 1895. Forest City Park continued to operate as a summer resort offering its patrons alcohol, questionable games of chance, and often risqué side shows and vaudeville acts. The next significant change in the park’s operation occurred in 1902. Only a year after taking over the management of Euclid Beach Park, the Humphrey Family took over the management of Forest City Park. The two parks were comparable in size at approximately sixty five acres. As with Euclid Beach, the bawdy attractions as well as alcohol sales were eliminated in favor a much more family friendly atmosphere. The two parks were managed under the same guidelines. All immoral or questionable influences were eliminated. Guests were expected to dress and conduct themselves appropriately. Those patrons who acted inappropriately were forcibly removed. In place of these questionable forms of entertainment, The Humphrey’s added family friendly attractions which included a shooting gallery, theater, carousel, and a “switchback” roller coaster. It has been suggested, but remains unverified that the Armitage Herschell Carousel (track machine style) and Switchback Railway roller coaster originally installed in 1896 at Euclid Beach were recycled by the Humphrey Family to Forest City Park when they were replaced with more modern attractions.

Armitage Herschell Carousel at Euclid Beach. Photo courtesy of EBPN.
Armitage Herschell Carousel at Euclid Beach. Photo courtesy of EBPN.
Track Machine Operational Design Patent. Photo courtesy of EBPN.
Switchback Railway Roller Coaster at Euclid Beach. Photo courtesy of EBPN.


As with Euclid Beach admission to Forest City was free with patrons purchasing tickets for food, rides, and attractions. Under their management the two parks operated under a ticket system called the “Humphrey Park Plan”; multiple tickets were purchased rather than tickets for particular rides. Tickets could be used interchangeably at either park and they never expired.

The Humphreys’ management formula of offering numerous attractions and a family friendly atmosphere which worked so well at Euclid Beach did not have the same result at Forest City. Despite all of their efforts, park attendance lagged. The lack of alcohol was definitely a contributing factor. While it is true the Humphrey’s stepped away from direct management after a few years, it was still operated up to their standards. The working class neighborhood the park was located in would have been more supportive of the park if alcohol would have been available along with perhaps more adult themed entertainment. For anyone other than neighborhood locals it was easier to commute to the much larger Euclid Beach Park or Luna Park particularly as automobiles became a popular way of traveling to the parks. Euclid Beach and Luna had provisions for automobile parking, Forest City did not. An argument can also be made that quickly improving road system to outlying parks like Cedar Point and Geauga Lake contributed its downfall. Forest City closed its doors forever after a devastating fire in the late teens. Today, the park is a mere footnote in history. As for the land, a portion was sold for industrial use and the remainder of the valley the park was located in including the manmade lake was eventually filled and used to build housing.