Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

Playland Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This playground is reminiscent of the old South Beach Happyland Amusement Park.

Originally part of a small Dutch community in the 1600s, the coastal neighborhoods of Middle and South Beach changed little until the l880s. At the end of the 19th century, investors recognized the potential of the teeming beaches filled with New Yorkers trying to escape the city’s summer heat. With the addition of hotels, bathing pavilions, theaters, beer gardens, carousels, and Ferris wheels, the beachfront property transformed almost overnight.

On June 30, 1906 the Happyland Amusement Park opened its boardwalk doors. Taking full advantage of the summer closings of most Broadway theaters, Happyland’s amusements, stage productions, and vaudeville shows attracted 30,000 visitors on opening day. The amusement park continued to draw summer crowds for many years with attractions like the Japanese Tea Gardens, the Carnival of Venice, and the shooting gallery. Though the boardwalk resort thrived throughout the 1910s and -20s, fires, water pollution, and The Great Depression (1929-1939) took their toll on the beachfront resort area and the crowds eventually disappeared.

The City acquired the beachfront property in, and it underwent renovations as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) Works Progress Administration (WPA). Providing jobs for Depression-era workers, the act also revived the community of Midland Beach. By removing the deteriorating music halls, carousels, and shooting galleries, the project made way for the present two and a half-mile long boardwalk. In 1939 it was dedicated to the former New York governor and president and has since continued to undergo periodic renovations and neighborhood improvements.

This site, located along the northernmost segment of Staten Island’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach between Fort Wadsworth and Sea View Avenue, now supports Parks-maintained baseball fields, handball and shuffleboard courts, and playgrounds colorfully adorned with dolphins and carnival-faces that recall South Beach’s long gone amusement parks. Visitors also enjoy bocce courts, checker-tables, a skateboard park, a roller hockey rink and a long pier for year-round fishing.

After several years, many public meetings, and $6 million drawn from the 1973-74 Federal Budget, nearby Miller Field became the Gateway National Recreation Area, preserving and enhancing the area’s natural beauty. In 1995 Parks installed a new roller hockey rink funded by a $15,000 City Parks Foundation grant, and in 1996 Saturn of Staten Island funded a nearby playground. Though South Beach has changed over the years, it remains an active center of the community and a beautiful scenic resort.

Directions to Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

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