Under the Boardwalk

 

    

Photographic Memories of the Long Beach Boardwalk

  

The Drifters' song you are hearing is from 1964, but like the photos from 1959 and before on this page, for us, its lyrics evoke many of our fondest summer memories from an earlier time when we were still kids.

If Oceanside was our home, nearby Long Beach with its beach and boardwalk only about 3 miles to the south ─ was our playground. There was no better place for a teenager to go for fun ─ and no better reason to got to Long Beach.

Take a look.

  

Although not actually in our little town, easy access to the beach and the boardwalk was among the many benefits we enjoyed because we grew up where we did. We could get there by bus or train, by bicycle or by hitchhiking, and once we were 16, many of us went there in our own cars (WOW!). Admission to the boardwalk, with its array of games, arcades and food, was free, and the beach (if you couldn't sneak in) was only a quarter
 
In the book based on his hit, 2005 Tony award-winning, one-man, Broadway production, 700 Sundays (featured in 2014 as an HBO TV movie), Billy Crystal (Long Beach High School,'65)
reminisces about the Long Beach boardwalk in the late 1950s and its "games of chance [he later mentions SkeeBall and Fascination, specifically], and a batting cage, a soft ice cream shop, a knish place (Izzy's) [several of which are pictured below on this page], and a large municipal swimming pool."
And on the way home from the beach (day or night), it was always
Roadside Rest in our little town, of course, for the "hot dogs and french fries they sell."

What could be cooler on a hot, summer day or night?

 
 
     

 
   

 
   

 

 

 

Your webmaster worked here at Fascination during the summer of 1961.

 
   

 
    

 
   

        

 
   

 
   

 
   

 
   

 
    

As you probably know, our our beloved Long Beach boardwalk was destroyed beyond repair in late 2012 by Superstorm Sandy after 105 years of providing pleasure to residents of, and visitors to, Long Beach. (Click here to see how Sandy affected our little town.)

For those who have not seen it firsthand, the extent of the devastation of the boardwalk and the rest of the city ─  in contrast to the way Long Beach was immediately before the storm, might best be appreciated by viewing this online video slideshow. The video is heartbreaking while at the same time heartwarming as the rebounding spirit of the Long Beach residents is quite palpable.

Our beloved Long Beach boardwalk has been rebuilt ─ but it is doubtful it will ever give anyone as much joy and lingering fond memories as it gave us during the happy days when we were kids.

 
       

 

Photo taken June 8, 2014

 
   

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Legend held that P.T. Barnum's* famous elephant, Jumbo, was used to haul and lay the timbers to build the Long Beach boardwalk, but according to reliable sources, it was built in 1907, Jumbo was already dead, and primarily for publicity, other Barnum and Bailey circus elephants (named Roger and Alice, then housed at Dreamland in Coney Island), as shown in the two rare photos below, were used .

  

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There is no evidence that Barnum had anything to do with the early development of Long Beach, and the popular belief that the same Barnum was the namesake of Barnum Island (the original name for Island Park) is likewise untrue (a case of mistaken identity, if you will).

  

For an incredible online collection of photos of Long Beach over the last 125+ years, assembled by Chuck Jacobi (LBHS, '73), who might best be described as Long Beach's pre-eminent online historian, go to http://www.ilovelbny.com, where several these photos appear (many of them provided courtesy of Joe Behar, LBHS, '60) and used here with permission.

 
 

 

 

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