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Luna Park, Cairo 1915 (2143721048)

Luna Park, Cairo, 1915.

The Cairo Luna Park was a trolley park[1] in Heliopolis, Egypt. Open from 1911 to the beginning of 1915, the Cairo Luna Park was the first Western-style amusement park in Africa and the first in the Middle East.[2] On 19 January 1915, buildings and grounds were converted into Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Luna Park for World War I;[3] the hospital was closed on 10 July 1916.[4]

The amusement parkEdit

Heliopolis, designed to be an "oasis" of Cairo,[5] was built in the first decade of the 20th century. After a 1907 stock market crash, the city's developers contracted with the Egyptian government to build housing for government workers; in addition, entertainment venues for the new arrivals were also planned, turning Heliopolis into Egypt's first entertainment zone. In addition to a hippodrome, polo field, cricket field, aerodrome, golf course, restaurants, and a new tram from Cairo,[6] a new amusement park - Luna Park, the first amusement park in Africa and the first in the Middle East - was built around 1910.[2] Opened to the public for the first time on 16 June 1911, Luna Park offered mechanical rides (including a switchback roller coaster), a midway, a skating rink, and restaurants.[7][8][9]

The field hospitalEdit

The onset of World War I in late 1914 led to the formation of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS) under General William Birdwood in Egypt. One of its first acts is the establishment of Australian General Hospital Number 1 in the Heliopolis Palace Hotel just outside Luna Park; by 19 January 1915, demand for bedspace increased to the point that the ANZACS expanded the medical facilities, first to Luna Park's ice skating rink by establishing Australian Auxiliary Hospital Number 1;[8][9][10][11] by 28 April 1915, over 500 beds filled the rink, and further accommodations were provided in makeshift-fashion in the haunted house, the scenic railroad, and the pavilion; the ticket office was modified to contain an operating theater. By middle of May 1915, the hospital was treating casualties from the Battle of Gallipoli; at this point, Luna Park contained over 1200 beds constructed of bamboo and palm wood, each bed with its own "customer" as ANZACS strode to establish additional auxiliary hospitals nearby.[11] By August 1915, the number of wounded at Luna Park reached 1400.[12] Ultimately, Australia Auxiliary Hospital Number 1 left Luna Park 10 July 1916, to be re-established in Harefield, England, to serve soldiers injured in France for the rest of the war.[10]

After World War IEdit

Roxy Square now occupies the former site of Luna Park. While many of the buildings that rimmed the park remain, no traces of the once-popular tourist attraction exist.[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Mona L. Russell, Creating the New Egyptian Woman: Consumerism, Education, and National Identity, 1863-1922 (Macmillan 2004) ISBN 1-4039-6262-6
  2. 2.0 2.1 Yasser Elsheshtawy, Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Urban Kaleidoscope in an Urbanizing World (Routledge 2004) ISBN 0-415-30400-8
  3. Peter Rees, Other Anzacs: Nurses at War 1914-1918 (Allen & Unwin 2009) ISBN 1-74175-549-2
  4. Casualty Clearance (2) - ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee (Queensland) Incorporated, 2005
  5. In fact, the original name of the development translated to "Oasis of Helipolis" - Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Heliopolis: Rebirth of the City of the Sun (American University in Cairo Press 2006) ISBN 977-416-008-8
  6. Report from Cairo Electric Railways and Heliopolis Oases Company, as cited in Daily Consular and Trade Reports, 1 April 1912 (United State Department of Commerce and Labor 1912)
  7. Magda Baraka, The Egyptian Upper Class Between Revolutions, 1919-1952 (Garnet & Ithaca Press 1998) ISBN 0-86372-230-X
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Serjeant-Major, R.A.M.C.", With the R.A.M.C. in Egypt (Cassell 1918)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Martin Shaw Briggs, Through Egypt in War-Time (T.F. Unwin 1918)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Casualty Clearance (2) - ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee
  11. 11.0 11.1 Peter Rees, Other Anzacs: Nurses at War 1914-1918(Allen & Unwin 2009) ISBN 1-74175-549-2
  12. Peter Stanley, Quinn's Post: Anzac, Gallipoli (Allen & Unwin 2005) ISBN 1-74114-332-2
  13. Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Heliopolis: Rebirth of the City of the Sun (American University in Cairo Press 2006) ISBN 977-416-008-8

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