From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:
The view of the starry Long Island Sound sky is surely beautiful from the long-isolated shores of Pleasure Beach peninsula.
And if a dispute over hooking up electricity for the reopened attraction isn’t settled, stars could be visitors’ only illumination.
Mayor Bill Finch’s administration is closer than ever to reopening Pleasure Beach, the longtime summer destination cut off from the mainland when fire destroyed a bridge linking the peninsula to Seaview Avenue.
Read entire story here.
A little history on Pleasure Beach from the book Only In Bridgeport:
Pleasure Beach is perhaps the one park left that is a sad reminder of the demise of the premier summer resorts of New England dating from the Gay ’90s. Tourists from throughout the northeast traveled by trolley and ferryboat to visit the original 37-acre area also known as the “Million Dollar Playground.” J.H. McMahon and P.W. Wren, two wholesale liquor dealers and land developers, turned the barren, sandy island into an amusement park in 1892. Three years later, a brochure of Pleasure Beach advertised a roller coaster, boardwalk, miniature railroad, skating rink, arcade, merry-go-round, a 5000-seat coliseum, wooden horse rides on a rail (for which the park later took the name Steeple Chase Island before returning to its original name) and a track that was one of the prestigious stops on the bicycle racing circuit. It also boasted of the Pleasure Beach legend, which alleges that the island was chosen by Captain Kidd for burying vast treasures.
“No exorbitant prices, an honest dollar’s worth for all,” was the motto. The Pleasure Beach Cafe served broiled lobster and soft-shell crab for 50 cents, broiled bluefish for 40 cents, and clams on the half shell (when local oyster beds were abundant) for 25 cents a dozen.
McMahon and Wren, as well as other private operators, ran into some financial troubles with the help of the fires that have cursed the island through the years; the first came on August 18, 1907, and destroyed the grandstand and weaving horse rail ride. The Bridgeport Board of Park Commissioners bought the park for $220,000 in 1919 and took over full operation in 1938, running the park during its most glorious days. Through the Depression it was a place to relax–on the glittery carousel, roller coaster or in the big-band ballroom. In its heyday, Pleasure Beach attracted hundreds of thousands each year. In the 1950s the amusement center began to falter through the city’s willingness to allow it to deteriorate and due to declining tourist revenues.
The park became a campaign issue in Samuel Tedesco’s victory over Jasper McLevy in 1957. The Tedesco administration tried reviving the park through a massive public-relations campaign, but the amusement center closed in 1960 and steadily sank into disrepair. The leftover buildings, ballroom and rides fell victim to fires, vandals and wrecker balls. Just about every year since, Pleasure Beach has been promoted as the ideal location for a jai alai fronton, dog racing track, gambling casino, college campus, jail or resort center. Lots of talk and ideas, but little else. The 53-acre peninsula (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used landfill dredged from Bridgeport Harbor to increase its size by 16 acres and connect the island to Stratford in 1947) has resembled a ghost town except for the 600-foot T-shaped pier, the last relic of the former amusement center that survived as a local fishing haven for blue snapper anglers. The pier sustained heavy damage when Hurricane Gloria swept the area in late 1985. In 1995, a fire ravaged the bridge that connected the East End to the peninsula. (Exorbitant costs have prevented bridge replacement, according to city and state officials.)
Original horses from the Pleasure Beach carousel were restored in the 1980s. They are on display at the carousel house of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.
For more: savepleasurebeach.com