I played at Lookout Park, which was within walking distance of home, before I attended school. The main features are the view of the Mississippi River depicted in this postcard, a long, steep hill in front of the benches, and a stairway from the bottom to the top.
I liked to take a cardboard box up the stairs and then slide down the grassy hill with neighborhood children. After the slide, we would mount the stairs to the benches, take a rest, and then slide down again. It seemed like endless hours of fun in a time when there were few responsibilities.
The city purchased the property in 1894, then known as Lookout Park, and changed the name to Riverview Terrace around 1900. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Despite the official name, we called it Lookout Park.
Tom Barton of the Quad City Times reported the park had been closed by the city with concrete barricades placed so vehicles can’t get in or out. I knew the neighborhood was in decline, yet it’s sad to think of the after hours drinking, littering, prostitution and drug dealing he reported going on in a place with more positive memories.
“This has been an ongoing problem that ebbs and flows, and it began to flow again” this summer, said Ward 3 Alderwoman Marion Meginnis, who represents the area. “The design (of the park) has made it an attractive nuisance.”
Though closed to vehicles, the three-acre site remains open to the public, Meginnis stressed in the article, and is meant as a temporary measure until city staff can decide how best to address and discourage crime.
Sometime we don’t want to know what is happening in the old neighborhoods. At the same time, bad news triggers fond memories. There are days I wish I could forget about everything and slide downhill like we did. Being carefree is a part of youth we didn’t appreciate as we lived it. There is no going back, just remembering.