Abandoned Crystal Pool at Glen Echo Park near Washington, D.C.

Image by Kaplansa

(Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

It may not look like much today but this peeling Art Deco facade was – as the name suggests – once the grand entrance to the Crystal Pool at Glen Echo Park, a long-gone attraction in what is a now a slightly spooky incarnation of its former self.  While still very much in existence, there’s a sense that Glen Echo Park, near Washington D.C., is not quite what it once was, and that time and technology have long since passed it by.

Images by trialsanderrors (top) and Mo Kaiwen

(Images top and bottom licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

This might sound perverse, but the park is even more spooky because it’s still very much alive.  The paths weaving around the attractions are busy with visitors, but the attractions themselves seem eerily quiet.  Most of the rides have now gone, including an early rollercoaster (above), shooting gallery (which closed during World War Two due to ammo shortages), and bumper cars.  The former Bumper Car Pavilion was reinvented for contra, swing and salsa dancing.

Images by luckywhitegirl and Alex Barth (bottom right)

(Images 1-5 and 6 licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Officially closing as an amusement park in 1968, Glen Echo is now home to an arts education programme, while screams and laughter from the rollercoaster have given way to the annual Washington Folk Festival.  An antique carousel still occupies the site, while a historic streetcar stands at the park’s grand entrance, a memorial to the days when the Washington and Great Falls Electric Railroad transported eager revellers here from nearby Georgetown.

Images by Link576 (top) and IntangibleArts (bottom), inset via Library of Congress

(Images top and bottom licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.  Inset: public domain)

While the historic carousel is the star of the show, the less fortunate Crystal Pool, now filled-in and grass-covered, is a draw for photographers looking to capture the mysterious atmosphere surrounding urban decay.  Its peeling facade gives Glen Echo the feeling of a living ghost park, while reminding us what “amusement” was about before the days of video games and social networks.  As a relic of the early 20th century, the Crystal Pool is similar in style to the good old lidos featured in this article about abandoned swimming pools.

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