Some Recent Observations of an East Ender: Pleasure Beach
By: Jack Hardy, Newfield '58, Lincoln '61, Harding '65
Nothing in my mind could compare with the accessibility of Pleasure Beach and the countless hours I spent there in the 1950's and '60's.... A lifelong friend and former East Ender and I did some "reconnaissance" there the last couple of years: The place is totally overgrown with underbrush, there's very little pavement left, the front beach (sacred ground in my mind) is totally covered with growth right down to the high water line. The road that goes around the island by the beachfront is just about gone. There's a floating dock attached to the pier which is where we land. On the West side of the Island is a tidal pond/marshland caused by the increased currents into Johnson's Creek since the opening in the east end of the Gut was closed in 1960. The first 100 feet of the Pier are now a sandy beach as a result of this. The carousel building still stands, it would make a nice cover under which to enjoy the summer breezes if it were ever reopened as a Park. The newer Pavilion building which I believe is about 15 years old, is quickly deteriorating. The old "convention hall" nearby still stands. I suspect that during the warmer months there may be vagrants living in the island's remaining buildings. In my opinion The Beach is better now the way it is rather than if some "developers" were to get their hands on it. The only way for it to reopen in my mind is as a public park. WICC as I understand it still broadcasts from the towers there. The Bridge is in the open position, with the Central Ave. entrance barricaded by 9 ft. fences with concrete barricades erected by the City of Bridgeport so the kids can't even go on the landward side of the bridge to fish. The Beach side of the bridge is the side that was destroyed by the fire and rendered it useless. A sign warns us to stay off of it, however the gulls have an excellent place to break the mussel shells and the road surface shows it. A few wrecked automobiles remain on the island near the bridge entrance, probably abandoned before the bridge fire. One thing that remains is the particular fragrance of the place as you walk around it. Probably the combination of the beach plants and the sand, it was particularly noticeable after a light rain would chase us off the beach in our youth. Pleasure Beach forever!
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