Thursday, June 25, 2009
On our way home, Jeff and I made a point to stop in Santa Cruz to see the Boardwalk there. It has been there over one hundred years and is one of those places of 'days gone by' that we find so interesting. I figured there would be plenty to add to our Amusementorium gallery as well. The Boardwalk has this antiquated looking skyway ride, a few themed fun house type places, plenty of rides, and lots of junk food available. I was especially looking for the Carousel. I am going to do a separate blog for the Carousel because it is so unique and I have lots of photos!
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is an oceanfront amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. Founded in 1907 and operated by the family-owned Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1915, it is California's oldest surviving amusement park and one of two seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States (the other being the Santa Monica Pier). The West Coast once hosted many more beach parks, including the Pike in Long Beach, California, Neptune Beach in Alameda and Playland at San Francisco's Ocean Beach. All have long since closed, but the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk survives as a reminder of a bygone era in amusement.
The Boardwalk was founded by Santa Cruz businessman Fred Swanton, who aimed to create a "Coney Island" for the West Coast. Swanton began his project in 1904 with the original Casino. Twenty-two months after it opened, the building was gutted by a fire that started in the kitchen. Rebuilding began just a few months later; the original Boardwalk, a pier and a new Casino opened in 1907. The park has been owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1911.
In 1911, woodcarver and amusement park pioneer Charles Looff created the Looff Carousel. His son, Arthur, suggested that the park owners replace the park's first thrill ride, the aging L.A. Thompson Scenic Railway, with a modern wooden coaster, the Giant Dipper, which was designed by the younger Looff and opened in 1924. Business slowed down during the Great Depression and World War II, but the Casino's Cocoanut Grove ballroom was at its peak.
Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, many older seaside amusement parks closed, including the Pike and Playland-at-the-Beach. The Boardwalk survived — and thrived — by introducing many new attractions and undergoing an extensive renovation in the early 1980s.
On June 25, 2006 the new ride WipeOut opened, featuring music written by the park's Audio Specialist, Donaven Staab. On June 22, 2007 the Boardwalk turned 100 years old, marking "100 Years of Fun".
In March 2007, the Boardwalk installed a Wurlitzer Style 165 band organ to use along with the Adolf Ruth & Sohn organ already in place. It was bought for a price of $250,000 and restored by the Stinson Band Organ Company of Ohio. The new Wurlitzer organ features a front portion that serves as a façade to hide the inner workings of the organ. The front also features beautifully rendered illustrations of the San Francisco Cliff House, and more. At the time of the Wurlitzer's installation the Ruth & Sohn organ was sent to Stinson for restoration. A new facade was fabricated that features historical illustrations of the Beach Boardwalk as well as figures playing drums. The Ruth & Sohn organ returned to the Boardwalk in October 2008. The Boardwalk also owns a Wurlitzer Style 146 band organ and plans to have it restored as well.