WEST SEATTLE HISTORY: See who and what was at the original Luna Park

If you’ve lived in West Seattle for more than a few minutes, you’ve probably heard about the short-lived early-20th-century amusement park Luna Park at the peninsula’s northern tip, likely even seen a few photos. But you probably haven’t heard or seen most of what West Seattle resident Paul Moyes shows you in the video above – Luna Park inside and out. Paul told WSB via email, “It is a detailed breakdown of the layout, location, and attractions of the amusement park. It proved a lot of fun researching where all the buildings and rides were located, and also discovering the names and a bit of backstory on the performers that entertained the throngs there.” Paul is not a historian – he told us he moved here in the ’90s (from Michigan) to study oceanography at UW – but has “enjoyed photography for a while (instagram.com/paulmoyes)” and this is his first video. “I’m considering learning more about videography and doing more vids in the future. I had such a great time on this one I think I caught the bug.”

20 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE HISTORY: See who and what was at the original Luna Park"

  • A Cascadian February 7, 2021 (4:05 pm)

    This is so cool. My Grandma (3rd generation Seattlite) told me about Luna Park when I was a tiny Cascadian complaining about the drive to Enchanted Village (when it was called that), but even she was born much too late to see it and was repeating stories from my great Grandma who visited it as a girl in the 1910s. Its awesome to see it come alive.

  • Susan B February 7, 2021 (4:17 pm)

    This is really terrific! Paul Moyes did a great job and as a history nerd myself, I found it very interesting and educational. Outstanding work. Hope he’ll do more! 

  • JW February 7, 2021 (4:17 pm)

    What a fantastic video! 

  • dsa February 7, 2021 (4:54 pm)

    Thanks for the education.  I always thought it was just rides and a pool.  And it was much larger than I thought.

  • Huck February 7, 2021 (4:55 pm)

    This is so well done!

  • RayWest February 7, 2021 (6:03 pm)

    That was fabulous. I’ve always known about Luna Park, having lived in West Seattle all my life, but I never knew details of what attractions were there. Thanks for creating this.

  • Kristi Mandt February 7, 2021 (6:31 pm)

    This was such a treat to watch, educational and entertaining and very well done.  THANK YOU PAUL MOYES!

  • RobynP February 7, 2021 (7:48 pm)

    Thanks for sharing with us.  This is great!!  This includes so much more information than I’ve ever read about Luna Park.

  • MercyMoi February 7, 2021 (8:42 pm)

    Thank you for making this, Mr Moyes. I knew there had been an amusement park, but silly as it sounds, I just assumed it was small and sat at the Luna Park restaurant site. Ha! I’d never seen any pictures or I’d have known it had been on the water. I wonder how they processed/discarded all the fire-damaged and abandoned materials. Thanks for explaining the layout, it’s all so interesting!

  • P Evans February 7, 2021 (8:42 pm)

    Terrific, thanks Paul!

  • Christina Gramling February 7, 2021 (8:57 pm)

    Nice! Very interesting and fun to learn of something I NEVER knew about. I’ve lived here 20 years now, had no idea. I look forward to any other interests that spark you to make a movie. This was great. Thank you.

  • ACG February 7, 2021 (11:30 pm)

    This was so informative!! I appreciate all the time and effort that went into this project. Thank you to Mr.  Moyes for creating it and sharing it!

  • Mike Spring February 8, 2021 (6:07 am)

    I have lived in West Seattle my whole life, 53 years and I knew of the park and had seen many of the photos, but nothing like what you just shared Mr Moyes, you did an outstanding job with this video. When I was younger I had spoken with a few of my older neighbors who spoke of the park, but I don’t remember anyone ever going into detail about it. It must have been really cool to have a park like that in our own backyard! My grandmother now lives right across the street from it and you can still see the pilings where it once stood. Thank you again!

  • Doug @Shari February 8, 2021 (10:30 am)

    We enjoyed this well done video.  It’s important to share history!  We live close  to the site  of Luna Park and found the video to be very interesting!  Thanks for a job well done. 

  • Dan February 8, 2021 (12:32 pm)

    Thanks Paul ! This is so wonderful. I have lived here all my life and have always wondered about Luna Park. To have access to this level of detail really makes it come alive for me. You did a really amazing job on this!

  • Victoria Nelson February 8, 2021 (5:31 pm)

    My husband who died at 95, told me his Dad worked there as a Carnie person selling popcorn and he recited his Dads spheel he would say popcorn get your popcorn right here and give your tongue a sleigh ride…there was more too it …he showed me location, and we had a book about it ..always could imagine it as we passed by…we loved eating at Homestead Chicken place near Manhattan beach and he knew the owner Mrs. Nelson.  Great History 😍

  • ttt February 8, 2021 (7:54 pm)

    This was really interesting and entertaining! My 13 year old and I really enjoyed watching it.

  • More than one Luna Park February 9, 2021 (9:14 pm)

    I appreciated the observation in the video that amusement parks like Luna Park copied attractions from other Fairs and amusement parks (such as the baby incubator).  I also learned more about the name of Luna Park, which also likely came from the original Luna Park amusement park on Coney Island with a “Trip to the Moon” ride: https://carouselhistory.com/coney-islands-original-romantic-luna-park/   Luna Park may be named for the attraction and park on Coney Island which also was famous for its tens of thousands electric lights.  Electricity at the West Seattle Luna Park would have been a big attraction since it was not always available in homes.  And then, I read about a Luna Park that emerged in Buffalo, NY, that also had a Figure Eight ride and Shoot the Chutes.  All this on the a quick Google search!  http://lostamusementparks.napha.org/Articles/NewYork/CarnivalCourtPark-BuffaloNY.html   The Luna Park in Buffalo had a Cave of the Winds, which may have been a copy of the Cave of Mystery and help solve the mystery of the Cave of Mystery posed in this video.  It also had a ride called the Big Auto Dip, which was a ride with dips, dives and exited a giant cannon mouth. Given the racism of the day in Seattle, the Big African Dip may have emerged from the mouth of a caricature of an African, a la the the Coon Chicken Inn in North Seattle.  But this is just speculation.  However, some of that speculation is furthered by a research paper that reviews the expansion of amusement parks at the turn of the century across the United States.  Several included an Old Plantation exhibit, like in West Seattle Luna Park. Blackface minstrel show were part of popular culture at the time, segregation and white supremacy was rampant (Plessy v. Ferguson was in 1896) it was only after the end of the Civil War.  I did not find information about the Old Plantation exhibit in Seattle but I imagine it was similar to, or copied from, the one on Coney Island which is described at this link:  https://www.nylikeanative.com/blog/old-plantation-the-ugly-racial-history-of-coney-island-and-its-worlds-fair-precursors.  The research paper provides a good discussion of how other human beings were big attractions to the white majority including not just acts like the Ostrich Man and the Japanese foot juggler but also African Americans who were part of the Old Plantation exhibit in some cities:  https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=  THANK YOU Paul Moyes for your interest and drive in collecting this Seattle history.  There is more out there for you fellow history nerds to dig into . . . 

  • More than one Luna Park February 9, 2021 (9:26 pm)

    THANK YOU Paul Moyes for your interest and drive in collecting this Seattle history.  There is more out there for you fellow history nerds to dig into . . .  including the original Luna Park on Coney Island which had the Shoot the Chutes, the Luna Park in Buffalo, New York which had the Shoot the Chutes, the Figure Eight roller coaster, and the Big Auto Dip, a ride that ended a twisting up and down journey by exiting the mouth of the giant cannon.  I wonder if the Big African Dip was the same ride and if it came out of the mouth of a large animal or a caricature of an African. Given the racist history of Seattle, such as the Coon Chicken Inn in North Seattle, neither would surprise me.  The history and expansion of these amusement parks at the turn of the century is documented in an interesting research paper about amusement parks in Indianapolis at the same time. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=  The paper describes how humans were often attractions at these parks.  Not just the Ostrich Man or baby incubators, but also Chinese and African Americans. Yes, one copied exhibit that was in the West Seattle Luna Park was the Old Plantation, described in the research paper as an exhibit of the pre-Civil War South.  In some places it included black-face minstrel shows, where were part of the popular culture at the time (remember Plessy v. Ferguson was in 1896 and Luna Park opened less than 50 years after the Civil War). In other places it featured African Americans who were not allowed to be paying customers and were also not in the pictures of Luna Park.https://www.nylikeanative.com/blog/old-plantation-the-ugly-racial-history-of-coney-island-and-its-worlds-fair-precursorshttp://lostamusementparks.napha.org/Articles/NewYork/CarnivalCourtPark-BuffaloNY.htmlhttps://depts.washington.edu/civilr/coon_chicken.htm

  • DAFFY February 10, 2021 (9:24 am)

    Great research job and wonderful video.  Thanks so much for sharing!

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