FDR Boardwalk: South Beach, Staten Island... The reinvention is underway.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 7:58am.

fdr_boardwalk_south_beach_2_640During the nineteenth century, much of Staten Island was used as a summer resort for its neighboring boroughs.  This was especially so closer to the shore, where people had access to the beach.  By the beginning of the twentieth century, in 1906, an amusement park opened on the eastern shore of Staten Island.  The Happyland Amusement Park, located in South Beach, was a widely anticipated attraction-so much so that at the time of its opening, thirty-thousand people traveled to Staten Island for its grand opening.

In 1912, a carousel was constructed at Happyland Amusement Park. The carousel became the most popular attraction of the park.  However, it was not the only feature enjoyed by the amusement park's visitors.  Happyland Amusement Park also had such recreational facilities as concession stands with shooting galleries and a theatre for Vaudevillian performances. Along the boardwalk, small hotels had once populated the perimeter.  Soon after the opening of the amusement park, however, these small hotels were replaced with larger hotels.dolphins_at_south_beach_staten_island_rev_400

The Happyland Amusement Park was a well-loved place amongst its frequenters, but its frequenters were just not enough to save the site. Between the years of 1917 and 1929, many fires destroyed much of the park.  While everything was rebuilt immediately after, this soon proved to be futile. This was due to the fact that since the frequenters only visited the park on the weekends, not much money was being made for Happyland Amusement Park. The park finally closed down during the 1930s, after the famous Stock Market Crash of 1929.

The Stock Market Crash, as you may know, led to the Great Depression. The Great Depression in turn led to the unemployment of a large number of Americans. To help provide people with jobs, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration in 1935. The Works Progress Administration allowed millions of Americans to get paid for creating useful facilities throughout the United States. On Staten Island, one of the most significant projects of the Works Progress Administration was the erection of a new boardwalk, which replaced the one that had been in use during the years that Happyland Amusement Park was open.

 

 

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk, as it is known today, was created parallel to the shoreline, as well as to fdr_boardwak_fishing_peir_400the current street of Father Capodanno Boulevard. Along the two-and-a-half mile boardwalk, you will find a great number of recreational facilities-even more than there were at Happyland Amusement Park.  This is evident, due to the fact that the boardwalk extends from Fort Wadsworth all the way down to Miller Field, encompassing over 600 acres.

Many events occur at the boardwalk throughout the year, but the stationary recreational facilities are enjoyed by visitors year round.  Among these recreational facilities are baseball fields, basketball courts, bocce courts, a canoe launch site, handball courts, playgrounds, a roller hockey rink, and a skate park.  Between April of 2005 and March of 2010, many renovations and additions were made to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach.  Among these was the erection of the South Fin Grill, a steak and seafood restaurant which was opened on the boardwalk. Aside from being your everyday eatery, the South Fin Grill can seat a large capacity, making it a great place for large events.

Putting the facilities aside, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach has more sights to see than just itsfdr_boardwalk_south_beach_3_400 namesake. There are a few monuments located within the park, as well. The most well-known monument, possibly due to its enormity, is the Fountain of the Dolphins, which was cast in 1998.  Three war memorials grace the park, as well. These are the Cespino-Russo Post Plaque, the Father Capodanno Memorial, and the Midland Beach Veterans Memorial.

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