I have been learning quite a lot about New Orleans, the way it used to be, from my 96-year-old aunt. She has mentioned several times that there was a "zephyr" or roller coaster across the street from City Park at one time. She is adamant it was there; her husband actually built it. While I don't doubt her, I can't seem to find out anything about it. What can you tell me?
Dear Tara Lynn,
Your aunt is right. There was an amusement park on City Park Avenue and North Alexander Street. The park's founder was Jacob Stock, a grocer, but he also was known as the "flying horse man" because he operated carousels at several amusement parks around town.
Stock's Amusement Park opened in Mid-City the early 1900s and featured The Scenic Railway roller coaster. Other attractions included a merry-go-round, games and a refreshment stand.
Jacob Stock died in 1907, but his widow and sons continued to operate the amusement park until the early 1930s. In March 1931, all of the equipment was put up for sale and the park became a victim of the Depression.
There also was a roller coaster called the Zephyr at Pontchartrain Beach amusement park. That roller coaster operated from 1939 until the park closed in 1983. The coaster was demolished, but its sign and part of a hump — as well as a few other pieces of memorabilia from Pontchartrain Beach — are on display in a park next to Kenner City Hall.