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Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

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Roller Rinks in Niles

Ward — Thomas Museum
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503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Falcon Hall Skating Rink Location in 1884.


Falcon Hall Skating Rink Location in 1884.

Old Roller Rinks in Niles.
Before there was roller skating at the 'Top 0' the Strip' in the 1980s and 'The Highway Arena' in the 1950s both on Route 422, there were three roller rinks in Niles in the late 1880s each located in the downtown area.

In the late 1800s roller skating held the limelight in Niles. At one time there were three rinks in the city. The first was a hall over a store on State Street. This proved to be a financial success, with skaters coming from throughout the area.

Soon after this, land was purchased on the east side of Main Street and another rink was built. This was called the Falcon Hall Rink.

The grand opening was a ‘gala affair’ with music provided by a band. The rink featured skating and occasionally, dances. There were attractions ranging from ‘fancy bicycling’ as well as novelty and fancy skating.

After several years of operation, the roller skating craze struck Warren and Youngstown where rinks were built.


The skating rink that later became the YMCA is located opposite from the future McKinley Memorial (1917) on the 1902 Sandborn Fire Insurance map.

Later investors built a large rink on Main Street, opposite the McKinley Memorial. Falcon Hall lost its business and was used only for dances. The owners of that rink later converted it to a YMCA, theatre and later a storage and feed store.

After several years of operation, the roller skating craze struck Warren and Youngstown where rinks were built.

The skating rink that later became the YMCA is located opposite from the future McKinley Memorial (1917) on the 1902 Sandborn Fire Insurance map.


The third skating rink in Niles was built on the site formerly occupied by the fire department.

The third skating rink in Niles was built on the site formerly occupied by the fire department. This went the way of others when the craze died.

The skating rink that is located near the Fire and Police station on West Park Avenue is located on the 1909 Sandborn Fire Insurance map to the left.

After years without a rink, roller skating became popular again in the 1930s. A new skating mania did not begin again until the 1970s with the disco craze.


Stylish girl on roller skates, ca. 1900s.

Stylish girl on roller skates, ca. 1900s.
https://www.vintag.es/2015/06/30-interesting-vintage-photos-of-roller.html

The first patented roller skate was introduced in 1760 by Belgian inventor John Joseph Merlin. His roller skate wasn't much more than an ice skate with wheels where the blade goes. They were hard to steer and hard to stop because they didn't have brakes and as such were not very popular.

In 1863, James Plimpton from Massachusetts invented the "rocking" skate and used a four-wheel configuration for stability, and independent axles that turned by pressing to one side of the skate or the other when the skater wants to create an edge. This was a vast improvement on the Merlin design that was easier to use and drove the huge popularity roller skating, dubbed "rinkomania" in the 1860s and 1870s, which spread to Europe and around the world, and continued through the 1930s. The Plimpton skate is still used today. Source: https://www.vintag.es/2015/06/30-interesting-vintage-photos-of-roller.html


 

 

 


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