Initially Central Amusement Park was called Nikolaevsky Country Park and was founded in 1893-1895. Then it was suggested by the town’s authorities to wood the area of 20-40 arpents (1 arpent – 1,09 ha) on both sides of Sumskoe roadway. As the reserved area lay outside the town, it was designed for horse riding excursions. It was decided to lay it out following the pattern of French Bois de Boulogne – with horse riding and carriage cruising alleys.
For this purpose the design made provisions to create so called “Carriage” alley along with Chestnut and Limes alleys. Besides, the future park should have been comprised with large number of picturesque lawns and isolated trees. Thanks to great involvement of people of Kharkiv supported by University and high schools students the plantations area extended greatly, and, by the moment park was ready to accept first visitors in 1907, its area was more than doubled.
Park has entered the Soviet era bearing a new name: as it couldn’t have been called Nikolaevsky any longer, it changed its name to Communal in 1919. During the Communist Revolution the Park was damaged badly. But starting from spring of 1932 the consistent and methodical effort has been made for Park’s recovery.
During 10 pre-war years, some striking changes took place in woodland zone and the park itself: the tram line was extended to Woodland Park (1930), trolley bus line was opened between downtown and park (1939), children’s railway with two stations “Park” and “Woodland Park” was built (1940).
Open Air theatre, Summerhouse Library, Movie Theater, rides were opened at the same time. A Parachute Tower operated until mid-60’s was built then too. “Dynamo” stadium has been constructed nearby. In late 30’s, after famous writer Maxim Gorky deceased, the Park was named after him. From that moment the Kharkovites enjoyed visiting the Central Park of Recreation and Leisure named after Maxim Gorky.
The WWII caused huge damage to the city of Kharkiv. During German occupation a significant part of Gorky Park’s plantations was cut down for firewood, the unique cedar grove was destroyed.
During the postwar period, between 1943 and 1953, the Kharkiv public gardens and parks were one of the key subjects for restoration, more than 3 million of trees and shrubs were planted. As for Gorky Park, the main plantations to become the starting point of Park’s restoration took place in 1946-1948. In 1952, a colonnade, designed by architects A. Krynnik and E. Svyatchenko, was built at the Park’s entrance.
In 1971,an aerial cableway (1387m) was commissioned and has been operating since then. It runs between “Park” and “Pavlovo Pole” stations through Sarzhin Yar beam area. The designed was made by “Prommekhanizatsiya” designing institute, Kharkiv.
In 1960-1980, an open air music hall and sound-n-light show (directed by Yuri Pravdyuk) were performing in the Park. Abandoned in early 90’s, the sound-n-light show building got rundown and was demolished a few years later. In 1980, a monument to Maxim Gorky by sculptor Belostotsky was erected at the Park’s entrance. The monument got really odd fortune: it was taken down at the end of 90’s and then, in 2006, was restored on new pedestal.
Also a colonnade at the Park’s entrance, brought down in summer 2001, was restored in 2006 on occasion of City Day. In 2007 a fountain on the park’s man square was renewed. In spring 2011 the Park was closed for a major renovation. The Gorky monument was moved to Kuryazh Juvenile Home where Gorky used to pay frequent visits to meet homeless kids brought up by professor-pedagogue Makarenko. Old structures and rides were dismantled.
August 22, 2012, on the eve of grand opening, the renovated Park was visited by the president of Ukraine. August 23, 2012 on the Kharkiv Liberation Day the Central Amusement Park was officially opened. Head of Kharkiv oblast Administration Mikhail Dobkin, Kharkiv mayor Gennady Kernes, Kharkiv and Bogodukhov archbishop Onufry, members of Parliament of Ukraine and dozens of thousands of Kharkovites witnessed the grand opening ceremony.
A squirrel became a symbol of renovated Park. Several generations of Kharkovites have been coming to visit park to feed cute little animals. This tradition is an essential part of park’s history.
During the renovation new rides, made in Germany, Italy, Canada, France and Great Britain, have been installed. All the rides are of 2011-2012 year of manufacturing. Among them the best in Ukraine Family Recreational Center, Rollercoaster, largest in Ukraine Ferry Wheel (55 m), Marry-Go-Round, Haunted Mansion as well as the rides designed for the smallest ones, extreme sports complex, rollerdrome, retro-zone, sports grounds, autodrome and others.
Everything in our Park is made by Kharkovites and for Kharkovites. The Park became one of the Kharkiv’s most recognizable landmarks. This is where you can relax and have fun too!