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Bridgeport In The Know

                                           
  
PLEASURE BEACH

The happy news in Bridgeport in the summer of 2014 was the re-opening of Pleasure Beach.  It had been closed for 18 years since the access bridge burned but now thousands of people have visited since it opened in June 2014 by getting on a free water taxi.

Pleasure Beach is on one end of a 71 acre peninsula that goes out from the  Lordship area of Stratford.  45 acres are Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach and the rest of the area is owned by Stratford and includes  Stratford’s Long Beach and used to have a funky colony of summer cottages

Brief History

Pleasure Beach has had a fascinating history. In the early 1900’s pleasure beach was privately developed as a Coney Island style amusement park with a penny arcade, carousel, roller coaster, and ferris wheel. There was even a baseball stadium there where professional teams played, and a ferry brought visitors over from a dock in downtown Bridgeport.

Around 1919 more attractions were added like bumper cars, a salt water pool, a theater and a ballroom where big bands like Gene Krupa and Glenn Miller played .  In 1927 the city built a bridge for cars and pedestrians to get there. In the 1950’s a fire damaged some of the rides and buildings. But the amusement park struggled on for a few more  years, and then closed in the mid 1960s. Many buildings and rides were then demolished.  The park and beach remained open
but attendance declined.

The final blow was in 1996 when part of the bridge burned out due to a cigarette that someone tossed onto the wooden planks and the place was then totally closed because there was no access. Over the years, the remaining structures fell into disrepair, and were vandalized.

Stratford closed down the seasonal cottages on its side of the peninsula and the empty buildings also deteriorated and were also vandalized and then just a few years ago they were all torn down. People could still get out to pleasure beach after that by walking from the Lordship side - a 2 ½ mile walk past Long Beach and the abandoned cottages.  I walked out there then and it was fascinating to see the abandoned places – like a ghost town.

Bridgeport has been committed to re-opening PB since the bridge burned. The bridge was a  swinging bridge to allow boat traffic and would have cost $20 million to repair.  So, water taxis were purchased by the city with a federal grant, and that is now the way people can get to there.

Here’s what you need to know and what to expect if you go. 

There are two water taxis that hold about 20 people each, and they go out seven days a week from 10 am – 5 pm  weather permitting from Memorial Day Weekend to Oct. 1.  You get on the taxis at the new fishing pier located at the intersection of Seaview Avenue and Central Avenue on the East End of Bridgeport.  You can park your car for free at a fenced-in parking lot right there, or you can park on the street. You may have to wait on line for a water taxi. For now there is no charge for anyone to go.  The ride takes just a few minutes. As you ride over you can see the old burnt bridge.

When you get to the Pier on the Pleasure Beach side, you’ll see a lot of fisherman there. Then it’s about a half-mile walk along a new boardwalk to the beach area.  There are golf carts that go back and forth along the boardwalk, and you can get a ride if you might have difficulty with the walk. 

At the end of the walk there’s a small picnic area and a building with rest rooms, showers, and a small concession stand.  You walk through this area, and right onto the beautiful beach. No cooking allowed.  No dogs, no alcohol of course. The beach has a lot of shells so wear beach shoes or flip flops. 
Right now the roped off swimming beach area where lifeguards are stationed is small 600 feet but you can walk the whole length of the beach for a couple of miles. 

 


Pleasure Beach is more beautiful natural area for nature lovers and bird watchers. A few areas of Pleasure Beach are fenced off to protect nesting endangered birds but you can walk down to Long Beach which is about 2 1/2 miles and then back on an old road along the body of water on the back-side of the beach.
A group of Bridgeport high school students, the Bridgeport Wildlife Guards, are employed in summer at Pleasure Beach to monitor and raise public awareness about Pleasure Beach and its ecosystems.  They lead weekend programs for kids & walks about different birds & coastal ecology.

  

You can see osprey nests high on 30 ft. poles where you could see the baby chicks. There are also fish and crabs and the rare prickly pear cactus, rabbits, deer, foxes, raccoons, turtles, and owls.  All the old building debris has been removed and the whole area is clean - no trash. There are police there every day and it is safe.

Future Plans

This is first phase of the re-opening of Pleasure Beach, and it cost around $8 million in federal and city funds but the city has put together a ten year plan for Pleasure Beach  which includes ideas like expanding the swimming area, having a kayak launch, ball fields, shade pavilions and gazebos.  Also a nature center is planned with a summer day camp for kids, playgrounds, trails and pathways.  It will take time and money but hopefully it will become a reality someday.

For more information on Pleasure Beach, contact Bridgeport's Parks Department at 203-576-7233.

                                         - Article by Madeline Dennis Raleigh
 

 See more information about Please Beach below:

 CT Post article on the re-opening with photos

WTNH News 8 video of re-opening

Video report of the new opening

Pleasure Beach Info on the City of Bridgeport web site

Map of Pleasure Beach

Short videos from Pleasure Beach opening weekend

Pleasure Beach Master Plan

Historic photographs of Pleasure Beach

 History of Pleasure Beach Video

For other videos of Pleasure Beach go to the Video Links
on this web site under the heading “Pleasure Beach”