Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Antique Postcards
Eldridge Park, Elmira, Chemung County NY 

The Spring House (Stereoscopic View)
Photo: Eldridge Park Postcards & Stereoscopic views
Township: City of Elmira, Chemung County NY
Photographer: Several
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I am going to tell the story of Eldridge Park using various short histories and photos as I find them. Three of the following are taken from the backs of stereoscopic cards published by three different photographers. The articles will be illustrated with the many stereoscopic views and postcards in circulation. The stereoscopic views, with their sepia tones, are from an early period, say 1860s / 1870s. The Whitley and VanAuken and Larkin articles all refer to Dr. Eldridge as living, so they were pre-1876.. The bulk of the postcards are from the 1900-1920 era with some of them artificially colorized..

Many of us remember Eldridge Park as a very special place in our childhood. Mid twentieth century it was an amusement park with Merry Go Round, Ferris Wheel, the Whip, Bumper Cars, kewpie dolls and such. It is gone now, just barren remnants of its existence can be seen. The lake is there but much shrunken from what I remember as a child. In its early years, as described in the following articles, it was a much more elegant place than those of us living now can remember. Feel free to send me a note about your memories of this place to be included at the end of this page.

Joyce M. Tice

Entrance to Eldridge Park Maid of the Mist and her Nymph - Casino in Background
Hm, Now I wonder where I left my blouse. (Sorry, I had to do that)
Towner's "Our County and its People," 1892 tells us a  little about Dr. Eldridge who created the park. Dr. Edwin Eldridge, physician of Elmira, was married to Hannah Stuart, originally of Monticello. Dr. Eldridge practiced medicine in Binghamton starting in 1839. In 1857 he relocated to Elmira. He purchased wilderness land with the little lake and made it into a garden of great beauty. His unexpected death in 1876 cut short his plans for developing it further. In 1889 The City of Elmira purchased the park. It was famous in its time for its great beauty.
Statue of Andromeda and Lake

ELDRIDGE PARK, ELMIRA, N. Y. (Pre 1876 article on back of Van Aken stereoscopic card)

E. M. VAN AKEN, Photographer
134 West Water Street, Elmira, N.Y

This is one of the most extensive and most handsomely laid out Public Parks in the country. It is nearly two hundred acres in extent, a lake of almost fifteen acres surface forming the nucleus, about which the numerous drives, walks and improvements have been made. There are four entrances to the grounds, one from the west, underneath the track of the Erie Railway; another on the east, near the Driving Park; another on the same side, a little further south, and the main entrance approaching from the city. This is through a broad avenue, lined on each side by numerous willow trees. To the right of this entrance is a large sized statue of Neptune set in a fountain, representing the god in battle with monsters of the deep. To the left on the highest point in the Park is situated the Casino, a large, four story building with a cupola, the pinnacle of this latter being one hundred and fifteen feet from the ground. The view from this, taking in the valley of the Chemung river and Newtown creek at their most interesting points, is unsurpassed anywhere for picturesque beauty and quiet interest, the contrast formed by the thrifty farm lands on one side and the busy city on the other being noticeable. This Casino answers the purpose admirably of a restaurant and an observatory. The restaurant is always provided with everything in its season, and is in charge of Mr. Joshua Jones.

The drives and walks about the grounds are of great extent and variety, the inequalities of the surface being taken advantage of in a singularly apt and tasteful manner. There are many pieces of statuary to be noticed. In front of the main entrance on three mounds, that partially surround a fountain are the figures of Winter, Summer and a Deer, the fountain itself being a figure of a sprite enjoying the water as it gushes forth. A little further on, sitting on a rock in the lake a few feet from the shore, is the figure of Andromeda, a work especially imported for the place it occupies. Further on to the left is a statue of Flora, watching a garden that surrounds her, and in the miniature Lake Sabrina, a figure of that nymph from which it gets its name. On the level plateau south of the Casino is the statue of Contemplation, and also that of the Maid of the Mist. Just below is the jungle or labyrinth, a large and apparently wild piece of undergrowth, pierced by many winding footpaths. Overlooking it, to the west is the statue of the Indian and his dog. Chapel Grove is to the north of the lake and approaching it on prepared elevations, are the statues of "Eve and the Apple." and "Night". A drive to the right of the Casino takes you around the turtle pond and beside the Conservatory, which is to be in charge of Mr. Grove Rawson. Near this is one of the most beautiful figures in the Park, that of "Venus". Proceeding on is Chapel Grove accommodated for purposes of public meetings and Sunday services. Passing and going on around the lake, the Spring Grove is reached, where is a spring of sulphur water. Above it, on a high terrace, is a flower garden, around which by the drive, one of the pleasantest in the Park, is passed the figure of Apollo Belvidere on a mound standing in the center of an artificial lake. Coming back toward the Spring Grove, other miniature lakes are seen, dotting the way like mirrors.

This is but a general view of one of the loveliest spots upon which the eye on man ever rested.

It is all the private property of Dr. Eldridge, but is thrown open to the public for their use, and is eventually to be given by him to the City of Elmira. Parties from all sections of the country visit it, and are always welcome to enjoy its beauties. Hardly a day passes that a picnic from some adjoining town is not held there.

It is easy access from all points and is reached from the city of Elmira by street cars which run with great frequency and regularity.

ELDRIDGE PARK. (From the 1879 Four county History)

What Central Park is to New York, Fairmount is to Philadelphia, and the Common and public gardens are to Boston, this garden of beautiful things is to Elmira. When we reflect that the city is growing with almost unexampled rapidity, and will soon surround the loveliest retreats with crowding houses and places of business, we see in a new light the taste and foresight of the gentleman whose liberal hand has wrought these wonders. The passenger on the Erie Railroad, as he leaves Elmira for the west, passes, as he emerges into the open country, a miniature lake, a velvety lawn, with statues, fountains, magnificent drives, neat buildings and ponds. To his inquiry, reply is made that this is Eldridge Park.

The drive to the park is through a willow-bordered avenue leading up to a broad English gateway, with its gate open; no hostile warder warning one away from its loveliness. Passing through this gateway, we see just in front, under the shadow of a large tree, three mounds surrounding a jetting fountain. On two of these mounds stand white statues of the only two seasons known in this climate, and on the third the figure of a deer, which stands as if ready to seek freedom beyond the inclosure. Before us is the circular lake, of about fifteen acres in extent, encircled by a necklace of willow-trees. Around this is a splendid drive, while right and left wind roads in most enticing curves, and views of beauty startle the eye at every step. Turning on the firm gravel to the left, we drive past a boat lying close to the beach, where the lapping waves make a low and peaceful murmur, and delightful vistas are just through the trees, while opposite is the statue of Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia; her mother, Cassiope, boasted of beauty superior to the Nereids. As a punishment for such presumption, Andromeda was chained to a rock in the sea, to be devoured by a sea monster. She was rescued by Perseus, who, after a desperate conflict, slew the monster, and claimed her as his bride. This is a fine copy of a statue by Lawrence McDonald, and which belongs to Queen Victoria. It adorns the Queen’s palace, at Osborne, Isle of Wight.

Rounding the delightful curves and viewing the slopes, skirted by emerald escarpments, whence shoot at every turn sweet surprises, we pass the bowed form of another statue, "Contemplation," who, with pensive head, seems to review the long past.

As we reach the top of the plateau we gaze off over a delightful vista of lake and trees, of flowery nooks, and white, gleaming statues, sparkling fountains, wild dells, beds of flowers, stately trees, and delightful arbors, and a paradise it seems before us; beyond is Sabrina, and over the trees the lake; around us a spacious lawn inclosing another basin, where, as if floating in her boat of shells, stands the "Maid of the Mist," just risen from the sea; a veil of thinnest gauze, air woven from the myriad drops that shoot upwards around her, half hiding her beautiful form. As we turn, a rainbow kindles the mist, as if Iris herself was hiding there, and the maid is transformed into some aerial being.

It was an experiment, throwing these choice grounds open to the public. It is a compliment to the taste and good sense of the public that this confidence is not abused. No articles are sold within its inclosure, and one annoying drop in almost every cup of bliss is banished from here.

The streetcars run to the park. The grounds comprise some two hundred acres.

Pre 1876 Article on back of Larkin stereoscopic card
ELDRIDGE PARK, from its natural advantages, and from the munificence and taste of its owner and projector from whom it gets its name, has become one of the most worthy objects for the observation of the lover of what is beautiful that exists in the country.  It is situated in the immediate vicinity of the City of Elmira, Chemung Co., N. Y. and is admirably adapted by nature for the purpose to which it has been put.  It covers in extent about one hundred acres, its chief feature being a lake, circular in shape, of about fifteen acres.  Around this the surface of the land is so broken that drives and winding walks laid out with great skill and taste, make the extent of the Park seem indefinite.  The art of landscape gardening has been applied with admirable judgment at every spot, and at every turn in the road or walk the spectator is surprised by charming and novel effects, produced with no apparent effort or change to the natural look of the scene.  Almost every variety of scenery is to be observed, from the calm and placid beauty of the lake, set like a diamond in the midst of the emerald bluffs, to the rugged and uncared-for picturesqueness of a native forest.  Scattered here and there at available and suitable points, are various pieces of statuary.  As you enter the broad gateway from the city, the first that strikes your eye are the figures of winter and summer, and a deer, surmounting three distinct mounds, that partially surround a fountain.  Proceeding along the drive that skirts the borders of the lake, is to be perceived, set very appropriately on some rocks a few rods from the shore, the statue of the ill-fated Andromeda.  On the left in a miniature lake, artificially set, is the statue of Sabrina, the nymph  of the Severn, on a high bluff beyond, the bronze figure of an Indian and his dog.  Following the road to the south and east on an elevated plateau, we see successively the statues of Contemplation, Flora and the Maid of the Mist, the latter so exquisitely arranged  that on sunny days she seems surrounded both by the spray from the fountain and bits of rainbow.  Coming back to the level drive around the lake, the trout ponds are soon reached, and a spring of sulphur water.  Still further around and turning north from the drive, situated in a grove of trees of several varieties, and in a natural amphitheater, around which the carriage-way leads, is the Chapel or Tabernacle, fitted up with a pulpit and rustic seats, and where every pleasant Sunday, thousands from all about the neighborhood gather to hear services conducted by some clergyman of the city.  A fine brass band furnishes the instrumental music on these occasions.  Within the pulpit, or open, covered and highly ornamented stand for the speakers, is placed a statue of an angel kneeling,  and with arms and wings folded. It adds much to the impressive beauty of the spot.  Returning to the lake is passed one of the finest figures on the grounds called Eva.

    All through the summer season, Eldridge Park is the favorite resort of people from everywhere, who carry away from it memories that will not soon die.

    Through the property of a private person ,Dr. Edwin Eldridge, of Elmira, it is for the benefit of the public, and will be a donation to the city of which it forms one of the most notable features.  Constant improvements and additions are being added to it in every shape to make it year by year one of the loveliest spots on the face of the earth.

Stereoscopic Views of all points of interest in the above Park, and also complete sets of WATKINS and HAVANA GLEN VIEWS constantly on hand and for sale by

J. E. LARKIN 118 Water Street, Elmira, N.Y.

    Pre 1876 Article on back of Whitley stereoscopic card
Eldridge Park, owing to the good taste and munificence of its owner Dr. E. Eldridge, is fast becoming one of the most beautiful parks in the country.  It contains over two hundred acres, pleasantly situated in the City of Elmira, and was opened, some years since, free to all.

    There is a natural Lake, nearly a mile in circumference, of clear and sparkling water, with a gravel drive around it, shaded by trees.  There are several trout ponds, in which are many thousands of the speckled beauties, ranging in size from the mere spawn up to the full grown fish.  Elegant statuary, brilliant beds of flowers, and sparkling fountains are seen on every hand.  Beautiful drives, cool and pleasant walks shaded by trees under which are rustic seats for the accommodations of visitors, are running in all directions.  Ample accommodations are furnished for pic-nic parties, and the Doctors men wait on them when they come.  The Sunday and Common Schools for miles around, come here for their pic-nics; and the Doctor is never so well pleased as when his grounds are full of happy children with their parents and teachers.

    On one bank of the lake is a beautiful grove, in which is erected a gothic preaching stand with a marble statue of an angel, with outspread wings, standing behind a desk.  Here every Sunday evening, during the summer, the gospel is preached to a crowd of attentive listeners, seated on benches furnished by the Doctor.  Dr. Eldridge has men constantly employed to keep his park in order, and has made, we are told, provision in the disposition of his property to have this kept up for all time to come, free to the public.

These views are published and sold, wholesale and retail by J. H. Whitley At No. 201 East Water Street Elmira, N.Y.

The Mid Twentieth Century
This is the era most of us will remember and we have fewer postcards from this time. It was past the great early century post card craze that preserved so many visual mementos for us.
Eldridge Park in the 1960s. Merry Go Round ring from Joan NASH O'Dell scrapbook.
The End

More articles abou tmore recent phases of Eldridge Park will be added later


Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 09/21/2004
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

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