Monday, September 6, 2010

South Beach's Glory Days.

                 Everyone's heard of Coney Island and all the fires that brought the amusement part to ashes, but have you ever heard of Happy Land Park? Maybe you did if your family is native to Staten Island, but i never knew anything about it. Happy Land Park was an amusement park that was located in South Beach, Staten Island. It was at its time in rival with Coney Island. The park cost roughly 200,000 dollars to open, and on its grand opening on June 30th 1906, it brought about 30,000 people, but admissions were free the 1st day of opening.
Aug 1908

               The Park was well known for its attractions and even had its own transit line right to the gates, as Coney Island did to its own park. It was lit up by over 50,000 lights and also featured a vaudeville theater, an attraction called the Carnival of Venice, complete with Gondola rides, hotels and resorts that lined the streets, as well as a Japanese tea garden and a shooting range.The park had got very good reviews by the New York Times and was a major attraction of the island. With the roof top restaurants and sprawling boardwalk its no wonder Staten Islanders had no desire to travel to Coney Island. Sadly despite good earnings and reviews, the park had to claim bankruptcy in 1910, though it still operated. Only up till 1917, when a devastating fire broke out. The fire wasnt the only thing that effected the island, pollution in the water also played a big part in the decline of admissions. After closing, the train stopped stopping in South Beach in 1953, and the tracks where ripped out in the 1980's.
The ball room at Happy Land park
People lining the boardwalk

South Beach 1980's
South Beach in the present day
What we see now of South Beach is not much more then sand and water. Aside from the baseball fields and boardwalk that lines the coast, there isn't even so much as a clue as to what South Beach once was. It is however home to the Franklin D. Roosevelt boardwalk. The FDR was built by Work in Progress in 1939, and it is one of the longest boardwalks in the world. New York has two others in the top ten: the Coney Island Riegelmann Boardwalk and Ocean Promenade on the Rockaway peninsula. And so the story always ends the same, by the 1970's most of all the arcades had closed down along with the restaurants and little shops, though the last arcade from Happy Land Park closed in 2006. A building complex went up along with a few mini malls and it looks no more special the an old abandoned beach when you walk down the boardwalk.

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