Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Remembering San Francisco's "Playland at the Beach"

Playland (also known as Playland at the Beach and Whitney's Playland beginning in 1928) was a 10-acre seaside amusement park located next to Ocean Beach, in the Richmond District at the western edge of San Francisco, California along Great Highway where Cabrillo and Balboa streets are now.

It began as a collection of amusement rides and concessions in the late 19th century and was known as 'Chutes At The Beach' as early as 1913. It closed Labor Day weekend in 1972.

I remember going there many times as a youngster. My younger brother and I were always creeped out by the ugly head of a lady mannequin at the entrance to the park. She had chubby cheeks and a frozen smile, and her head bobbed up and down, with a scratchy recording of her laughing. It went “HA HA HA HA HA….scratch….scratch….scratch….scratch…..HA HA HA HA HA….scratch….scratch….scratch….scratch….." over and over again. I suppose the laughing lady was meant to put you into a cheerful, fun-filled mood, but it only terrified me and little bro.  She was known as laughing Sal and has been preserved in the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, where she is still laughing and creeping out little kids (go to this link to see and hear her).

Here are some pictures of Playland at the Beach, taken over the many years of its existence.

Get a load of the depiction of black servers on the right.  RAAAAACISM!

Ah, here is the beautiful, talented and sexy Grace Slick, with guitar player Jorma Kaukonen of the
Jefferson Airplane.  I knew Jorma as he was a customer of my father's music store in San Jose, CA.

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