Bandstands first became common features in parks, town squares, and fairgrounds after the Civil War. At that time, brass bands were widely popular. Bandstands were built to provide outdoor venues for the musicians that had good acoustics as well as shelter from the weather. The structures became ornamental focal points in the public spaces. Eldridge Park had a bandstand in the late 1800s, while other parks in Elmira, Horseheads, Elmira Heights, and Big Flats first got gazebo-like bandstands in the early 1900s. Most of the structures eventually fell into disrepair and were torn down in the mid-to late 1900s.
The first bandstand in Eldridge Park was a pagoda-like structure built in the 1870s where the LaFrance Band would play during the summers. A new bandstand was built in 1897 to replace the original which had become dilapidated.
Eldridge Park bandstand, 1875
In 1902, the city spent $500 to build a bandstand in Wisner Park. It was used frequently for concerts in the park through the 1910s, but it fell out of use in the 1920s. It was torn down in 1927. In 2016, the park finally got a new bandstand stage.
Wisner Park, c. 1905
The Zim Bandstand still stands in Teal Park in Horseheads. It was designed by cartoonist Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman, and dedicated on September 15, 1910.