NOTE:It’s been brought to our attention by our readers that the remaining buildings of the amusement park were mysteriously demolished sometime in late August or the first week of September, 2009. The public is being urged to avoid visiting the area.
What: Connecticut’s largest ghost town
Where: Pleasure Beach, Bridgeport & Stratford, CT (map)
Admission: Private Property, “No Trespassing” Posted. Violators risk arrest.
Best Time of Year: Spring through Fall
Abandoned Since: 1996
Pleasure Beach is the Bridgeport portion of a Connecticut barrier beach that extends 2-1/2 miles westerly from Point No Point (the portion in the adjoining town of Stratford is known as Long Beach). The area is Connecticut’s largest and most recent ghost town and abandoned recently in the late 90’s after arsonists torched the bridge connecting it to main land.
From 1892 until 1958, it was home to a popular amusement park of the same name. From 1904 to 1919, it was called “Steeplechase Island.” The amusement park was accessible primarily by ferry service and a wooden swing bridge built in 1919 to carry automobiles and pedestrians. Remaining structures from the amusement park are the carousel, dodge-’em car enclosure, and beer garden (the latter was substantially altered for use as a summer theater in the 1960s).
After a portion of the bridge burned in 1996, Pleasure Beach was cut off and became accessible only by a lengthy trek along the shoreline, or by small private boats from the mainland. This has severely limited access and allowed nature to be undisturbed.
The transmitter towers for radio station WICC (AM) are located on Pleasure Beach. The station has to use amphibious landing craft when it needs to deliver cargo.
The area is a protected refuge for endangered birds (piping plover, osprey) and plants (prickly pear cactus, southern sea lavender). Sections of the beach are roped off seasonally to protect the plover nesting areas. There is also an abundance of white-tailed rabbits, deer, foxes, raccoons, and other mammals. The sand spit is estimated to contain more than 25% of the remaining undeveloped beachfront in the state.
The Town of Stratford owns 45 cottages on the Long Beach portion of the peninsula. For a decade, the town considered ending the leases of the seasonal homes, in part because of difficulties in protecting them. The town ended renewal of leases, and in May 2007, the remaining occupants agreed to give up their claims and moved their possessions away by barge. The cottages are now open to the weather and vandals, which has led to The Town Closing access and making it illegal to trespass and violators risk arrest.
As of July 2008, three of the 45 cottages have suffered arson attacks and burned completely, and every building located on Pleasure Beach has suffered vandalism. Four vehicles have been removed, and the area is littered with trash from squatters and party-goers. The mayor of Stratford is working to clean the land and possible transactions exist to sell the Long Beach land to the Department of Environmental Conservation or to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On July 25, 2008 the governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell endorsed spending $150,000.00 to study the feasibility of restoring access to Pleasure Beach, possibly by rebuilding the bridge.
The Carousel: One of the few remaining structures from the old amusement park.