What: The final July 4th celebration at Wonderland Amusement Park.

When: 1911.

For your amusement: Before there was Valleyfair, there was Wonderland. In 1905, when the amusement park opened at E. Lake Street between 31st and 33rd avenues, one of the local newspapers encouraged everyone to visit, saying, "All staid peopled should make up their minds to loosen up for the nonce."

The opportunities for loosening up were many: The list of July 4th attractions included the Johnstown Flood exhibition, the Old Mill (so the State Fair's Ye Old Mill is technically Ye Newer Old Mill), the House of Nonsense, a ride called Bump the Bumps, the Laughing Gallery, a rifle range, an electric photo studio and "many minor features."

And those were just the indoor attractions. Outside, there was a Scenic Railway (a roller coaster), the New Chutes and the Airship Swing. The centerpiece of the park was an illuminated tower reaching 120 feet into the air; its lights could be seen for five miles. You knew it was summer when they switched it on.

Patriotic fireworks were provided on the 4th, of course. The Tribune noted that park officials were keen to keep mischievous kids from blowing off their own supply of "fire-crackers and torpedoes."

Flare and fizzle: Despite its many attractions, Wonderland only lasted seven years, closing on Sept. 10, 1911. "And possibly the management is glad of it," the newspaper said, "for weather eccentricities have militated against outdoor amusement." The previous summer had been chilly, and 1911's summer had ended with deluges. Wonderland closed, and the area became the residential neighborhood we now call Longfellow.

What remains: One humble building, used to show off premature babies in incubators. At the time, this was a great draw at fairs around the country. People were fascinated by this new lifesaving tech, and Wonderland's incubator showroom didn't just have babies, but sometimes twins. The incubator attraction is now an apartment building at the southeast corner of 31st Street and 31st Avenue S.

James Lileks