Island MetroPark was formerly known as the White City Amusement Park in the late
19th century. The park had a dance pavilion, amusement rides, canoe lockers, refreshment
stand, and other recreation features. By 1907 the park had become run down and not
well maintained. In 1910, Dayton started leasing the park land for $3,000 a year,
and in 1911, a recommendation to buy the land was proposed in the report submitted
by the Olmsted Brothers.
The Great Flood of 1913 left the Dayton area incapacitated and knocked out the bridge
that allowed passage; and damaged a number of buildings at the White City Amusement
Park. Because of the park was located in a flood area there was initially no redeeming
quality to replace the bridge that connected the park at Helena Street to the Main
St. car line.
Then, on July 13, 1913, the Dayton Canoe Club held is first regatta. D.W. Begley
the owner to the boathouse across from White City park ferried spectators across
the river free of charge. Consequently, after two more successful regattas’ that
summer the Dayton city officials decided to rebuild White City. On June 20, 1914,
the park formally opened as Island Park. The park became an ideal location in the
coming years for programming that included bathing, picnicking, canoeing, boating,
dancing, ice skating, water carnivals, evening band concerts, and general recreation.
In 1940, a Bandshell was erected, and opened under the name of the Leslie L. Diehl
Bandshell where programmed concert attendance totaled 80,000 in 1943. Dayton official
annual reports reveal a pattern of heavy use and evolution of the park and it shows
that through war and peace, prosperity and urban challenge, Island Park remained
a focal point of Dayton recreation for decades.