Long Beach New York - I Love LBNY.Com - Amusement Rides
Cotton Candy Shack about 1982
Al and Michael Abrams
Skee Ball Tickets
Long Beach, New York

The Amusement and Rides
From sometime in the 1930's until the very early 1980's, the Long Beach boardwalk, stretching from Magnolia Blvd to Edwards Blvd (formerly Jackson Blvd.), became less of the exclusive promenade for the wealthy, rich and famous,  and more welcoming toward the growing middle class.  Long Beach would adapt to the post Great Depression recovery in order to survive by attracting the middle class.  First, arcades appeared, taking over spaces that were once posh dining rooms and porches in some of the boardwalk hotels, the Nassau Hotel on National Blvd. most notably.  Games of chance, Fascination, the Greyhound Races, Shooting Gallery, Skee Ball,  Fortune Tellers and more popped up and lined the frontage on the boardwalk. Custard stands and Knish shops, Kosher Deli's and hot dog stands, Harold's Sno Balls, Pretzels, Pizza, Kalin's Italian Ices and cotton candy kept the boardwalk bathed in sights and smells that rivaled, and to some surpassed, Coney Island.  By the early 50's, the amusement rides, the batting range and miniature golf had arrived.

The boardwalk was a bustle of activity that continued east past the old lookout tower (actually a WWII spotting station) to the bowling alley and Dick's, at Long Beach Blvd.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day the boardwalk became a place every adult and kid growing up would remember. At night the arcades and rides were lit up like our version of Las Vegas.  They were good times; clean, fun times. 

The demise started in 1965, with the loss by fire of the Tower Baths Complex at National Blvd.  It, and all the businesses that were in it and fronted the boardwalk, were a total loss.  And then, by the 1970s, a change came.  People weren't coming to Long Beach anymore. The hotels became more run down,  property values declined, New York State decentralized the program that cared for mentally disabled patients, and inevitably relocated them to Long Beach to fill these old hotels and rooming houses, where they roamed the local streets and boardwalk.  Hard drugs became a local scourge. Real estate prices went down, the arcades lost money, suspicious fires took their toll on other businesses and properties which fronted the boardwalk, and the rides at Grubergs, once shiny and magical, were now rusted and tired.  By about 1982 or so the magic was all gone.

What is left are our memories and these great photos we have been fortunate to obtain from various former and current Long Beach residents.  These photos would not be possible without the submissions of many people, Dr Kenneth Tydings (who is credited with most of the black and white photos, courtesy of his son Albert Tydings), Laura Murphy, Lowell Taubman, Paul Shapiro, Jimmy Holmes, Steve Cooper, Gail Rapoport and Robin Stein.  If we forgot to mention you, we apologize, some of the documentation for these photos was lost, please drop us an email so we can properly credit and thank you.

Enjoy these lost images of Long Beach!
Kiddie Rides
Playland's entrance fro Edwards Blvd.
The Ferris Wheel and WWII Spotting Tower
Notice the old WWII Spotting Tower in this photo, often called the "Submarine Tower" but actually used to provide coordinates on enemy ships to the 16" guns at Ft Tilden (now Gateway Park).
Click on the images below to expand.
Greyhound Races
Miniature Golf
Caged Ferris Wheel
Fire Engines
Roller Coaster, Chair-O-Plane and Salt and Pepper Shaker
The Amusement Rides
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Photo Directories
The Ferris Wheel
Kiddie Park Sign
Mini Golf booth
The Fortune Teller
The Fortune Teller
Batting Cage with Hotel Nassau and Tower Baths in background
Boardwalk and Ferris Wheel, about 1982
Greyhound Races and Fascination, 1971
Edwards Blvd, the Ferris Wheel and the spotting tower, 1950s
A view from Broadway and Edwards
Ferris Wheel and the Whip
The Whip
The Whip
The Boats
The Rockets or Salt and Pepper Shaker
The Flying Elephants
The Ticket Booth
Ticket Booth - Tickets were 4 for $1.00 or 30 cents each..except the Roller Coaster, that was 35 cents!
Merry Go Round
Mini Golf
Mini Golf at Night
Entrance to Playland in the 50s.
Boardwalk entrance to Mini Golf
Hebrew National, Waller's Custard and the Shooting Gallery
Skee Ball
The Trains
The Rocket Ships
Roller Coaster, circa 1980
Roller Coaster, 1950s
Skee Ball and the boardwalk, probably late 50s
The Whip
Waller's and the Shooting Gallery
And then they were gone...never to return

First the Batting Cage went .  Then, when the Tower Baths burned down in 1965 and took many businesses and amusements with it, the demise started in earnest.  The Miniature Golf disappeared. The Bowling alley, the rides. the food concessions.  The rest slowly closed as revenue dwindled and Long Beach began to show signs of urban decline.  By the early 80's the grand age of the boardwalk amusements and rides had come to an end.
Boat Ride, 1950s
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Well, the photo of the man, (AL) and the teenager is me and my dad. From 1963 to 1971 my dad ran the hot dog stand on Edwards Blvd., part of Playland, or as those of us who worked there referred to it, the kiddie park. At 15, with dad down in the hot dog stand, I ran the cotton candy stand myself that summer (1967) and for the next five summers until 1971 when my dad retired to Georgia and Max left and Leo took over. I lived in the Bronx during the "off" season. When I visited in the summer of 1972 I was pleasantly surprised the two stands continued on, but also felt a lump in my throat. Those places had been my summer existence for nine consecutive summers. I thought of them as mine. I still do. Anyways while Jimmy Holmes now lives in Florida and I now live in California, we are still good friends. He's posted a few of my photos and that's terrific. Thanks, respectfully, Michael Abrams
Many thanks to Michael Abrams, who sent us the following series of photos and this short recollection of his time working the Cotton Candy and Hot Dog stand: 

All of the photos are from 1969-70-71. If memory serves they were taken with one of those Kodak pocket instamatic cameras with the revolving cube flash.There are several photos of Tom Cannon. We were buddies. In the summer of 1970 & 1971 he ran the the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Rocket rides. He was a local.

I'd like to preface the photo of Big Jim and me. Firstly it might be interesting to know that during the late fifties and early sixties a number of people who worked the rides and game booths and confection stands at the boardwalk by Edwards Blvd. were itinerant carnys up from the south. Normally they worked traveling carnivals however this was a nice break for them to stay in one spot, have some fairly decent money come in and it served as an escape from the heat of the southern summer. There may have been a local or two, but mostly it was these southern hillbilly carnys. It was not unusual for entire families to make the trek north.

As for Big Jim, he wasn't tall, but he was as solid as a tree trunk. There was one occasion where he carried the Ferris Wheel motor, some 400 pounds, up along the sand path from the kiddie park up to the boardwalk. It was a feat that astounded all, and these folks were not easily impressed, and is still remembered with awe by all that were there to see it. And he did it with a load on. Nearly every morning he sent me to pick up his daily pint of Four Roses whiskey, which was his breakfast. Those carnys could drink. Jimmy Holmes and I witnessed this every day.

Al, my dad, who paid Max Gruberg a seasonal fee to run the hot dog and cotton candy stands, did so for ten years, from 1962 until 1971. Stories abound... I know a lot of the history however to this day I have no idea why everyone called my father Al. His name was Abraham and his city friends called him Abe. He passed away in 1997. He was a true larger than life character, a carny himself among other things...

Oh I'll add one more pic. It's me in my current home in California, wearing my Al's Cotton Candy t-shirt. Yep, still fits, (barely, and that's stretching it, pun intended.)  Michael Abrams

***  These photo files were a little small, apologies that we couldn't enlarge them more.

Al Abrams and Greg passing time.
Al Abrams and his son Michael.
Al Abrams in the Hot Dog Stand
early spring, 1969
Al Abrams grandchildren, Debbie and Brad. 1970
Big Jim and Michael Abrams
Boardwalk Trash !!
Brad, Barry and David Breiner at the Kiddie Park
Cotton Candy stand counter top peace sign !
Al and his daughter Joanne at the Hot Dog stand.
Al with his grandson David at the Hot Dog stand.
(notice the White Rock soda sign over the door)
The Boat Ride
Michael Abrams in the Cotton Candy shack.
Michael Abrams on his 55 Chevy with the Merry Go Round and kiddie park behind him.
Tom Cannon and Michael Abrams in the Hot Dog stand on Edwards Blvd.
Tom Cannon runniing Tilt-A-Whirl
Davis Breiner on the Boats.
This is Michael Abrams today, wearing an original Al's Cotton Candy shack tee shirt and pointing to the cotton candy tatoo he still has !!
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Click the images below to expand.
Click for a listing of Boardwalk businesses in the 1970 Long Beach Guidebook
Jerry's Knishes
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Kalin's Custard and Ices
(click to expand)