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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
- Article by Madeline Dennis Raleigh