Flying Horses

A Ride Into East Falls History

Photo Courtesy: George Lane.

1873 brought a merry go round (aka “flying horses”) to Schuetzen Park in East Falls. The 19.5 acre park (now the site of the Queen Lane Reservoir in East Falls) was purchased in 1870 by a German-American rifle club called the Philadelphia “Schuetzen Verein” (translated from German as “Shooting Club”). While the men were shooting, the women and children enjoyed the ride and other features of the park, including a dancing hall, swings, horseback riding, and a music room.

The club also held Schutzenfests, shooting festivals whose origins dated back to the Middle Ages in Germanic parts of Europe. Winners received trophies, prizes, and local and regional recognition from their victories. The festivals were also occasions to express German pride as well as patriotic sentiments about the United States and the role of Germans in building the nation.

These expressions seemed necessary, given that many Americans in the late 19th century believed that Germans were “foreigners” and not “real Americans.” For the full story of Schuetzen Park, see “Bullets, Beer and Bavarians” at eastfallshouse.com

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