Under the Boardwalk



Memories of the Long Beach Boardwalk


The well-known Drifters' song with the same title as this page (which you can hear in the accompanying video slideshow) is from 1964. But like the photos from 1959 and before that are featured in the video, its lyrics evoke for us many of our fondest summer memories from an earlier time when we were still kids. If Oceanside was your home then, nearby Long Beach with its ocean beach and boardwalk only about four miles to the south ─ was your playground. There was no better place for a teenager to go for fun ─ and no better reason to go to Long Beach.


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.  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?

Click here to take a look at our video slideshow of the Long Beach boardwalk made for our 55-year reunion in September 2015 by the beautiful sea.

Please note that the video is a big file and may take some time to download. So be patient.

If the video frame does not open, you may have to unblock pop-ups on this site, set up Windows Media Player (or an alternative) or download a QuickTime plug-in, for example, if you are using a Firefox browser. Also, you may prefer to view the video in "full screen" mode by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner of the pop-up video frame.


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  Here's Howie  

In the wonderful 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) [all of which are pictured in the video], and a large municipal swimming pool."

As you probably know, our our beloved Long Beach boardwalk was destroyed beyond repair by Superstorm Sandy in late 2012 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. This video is at the same time heartbreaking while it is also heart-warming as the rebounding spirit of the Long Beach residents is quite palpable.

Our beloved Long Beach boardwalk has since 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 grew up.



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, as shown in the two rare photos below, other Barnum and Bailey circus elephants named Roger and Alice (then housed at Dreamland in Coney Island) were used.




There is no evidence that P.T. Barnum had anything to do with the early development of Long Beach, or consistent with popular belief, or that he was the Barnum who was the namesake of Barnum Island (the original name for Island Park); it is a case of mistaken identity.


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 many of the photos  in our video slideshow also appear. These photos are used on this site with permission provided courtesy of their original source, Joe Behar, LBHS, '60.




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