“Butko does it again with this astounding collection! From baby incubators to lion attacks, Luna Park’s hidden history is at long last revealed.”
– John Schalcosky, Founder of Odd Pittsburgh
Luna: Pittsburgh’s Originial Lost Kennywood follows the intriguing, intertwined stories of two very different amusement parks in suburban Pittsburgh: Kennywood in West Mifflin and Luna Park in North Oakland. Butko takes readers on a rollicking trip to the rowdy picnic spot first called Kenny’s Grove, then we meet the Ingersoll family of inventors who go from building rides at Kennywood to creating its chief competitor. Frederick Ingersoll, today credited with inventing and spreading the concept of amusement parks, was the visionary who conjured Luna by literally blowing apart a hillside along Craig Street in 1905. While he continued building more rides and more parks, he was also slipping into bankruptcy.
Luna, for all its exotic architecture and dazzling lights, went dark after just five seasons. An escaped lion who killed a visitor is usually blamed for starting the park’s decline, but Luna was also competing with the first Nickelodeon (in downtown Pittsburgh) and nearby Forbes Field (among the first modern ballparks). All but forgotten a century later, Luna saw its legacy revived when Kennywood Park opened Lost Kennywood, an area modeled after Luna and other “world’s fair”-style parks. Kennywood and its competitor now co-exist in their own unique way.