Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Pike - Long Beach, California

There was a time when Southern California had many seaside amusement parks (and amusement piers). There was "Fraser's Million Dollar Pier", "Lick Pier", Santa Monica Pier, Venice Pier, Pickering Pier - almost all of which fell victim to winter storms or fires. And let's not forget Hopalong Cassidy's "Hoppyland" (In Venice, CA) and Ocean Park (later "Pacific Ocean Park"). In Long Beach, there was The Pike (along with its "Silver Spray Pier" and "Rainbow Pier"), founded in 1902.

This first picture is so much fun, in part because of all the great signage. I would love to know what the "Davy Jones' Locker" dark ride was like - awesome probably! Supposedly The Pike (by the 1950's it was called the NuPike) was on the decline, but it looks fairly tidy and clean here. Not seedy or run-down at all - at least by today's standards.

And check out this trio (possibly in their Sunday best?). The little kid with the white-framed shades is a pretty cool customer. I imagine him talking like a pint-sized Frank Sinatra. Ring-a-ding-ding!

This next photo is from 1959 (probably a few years after the first picture), and was taken on the same avenue as the first image, only closer to the Ocean Center building in the background. I have to admit that it already looks a bit sketchier, but not too bad. Maybe it's just the time of day. You could grab a bite to eat (how about some nice BBQ… you could wrap it up in cotton candy), play some carnival-style games, dance to live music, and even catch a movie.


Nanook said...


Wow-! Both those "young men" are really stylin'-! I love to see children wearing sunglasses - almost as much fun as spying sunglasses on animals. And, yes, the signage - my favorite style from the glorious days of amusement parks.

And in the third picture: There's nothing like a practical purse and a sensible pair of shoes for an exciting day at The Pike.

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

Those little dudes show a lot of swagger! Hitting those poses, stylin' for the camera...its awesome!

I'm guessing the older bro also has a pair of X-ray Vision glasses at home that he bought through the mail - he wears those to The Pike when mom isn't with him. Hilarious fun for all... look - I can see the bones in my hand!!

Gotta go - meeting my buddies at the Self-operated Looper...

Bill in Denver
(1 day to Super Bowl)

Chuck said...

Wow - 10-15­¢ for an apple! Assuming this is 1957, that works out to between 83¢ and $1.24 today.

While expensive for a supermarket apple (according to the USDA, as of this week the national average price for Red Delicious apples is $1.25/lb, with an average weight of .33 lb/apple), that's not too terribly bad for an amusement park. In October, the Main Street Fruit Cart was selling apples for $1.99 each.

That reminds me...we're out of bananas.

Irene said...

I have very sketchy memories of the Long Beach Pike. The one that stands out the most is the huge wooden roller coaster. I wanted to ride that thing so bad but no said Mom. So I had to watch while my Dad and older brother went on. Of course I'm not bitter ;)

Irene said...

Also, I just noticed they are not just apples - they are candied apples!

K. Martinez said...

That family's stylin'.

I love old amusement park architecture and signage. There's something about an old seaside amusement park with the smells of junk food, ride grease and ocean air. Not even Disney's Paradise Pier could pull off that unique ambience.

Luckily I live a 10 minute walk from California's oldest surviving amusement park (Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk). It's changed a lot but there are still vintage gems to be found.

Chuck - And those apples at the Pike were candied apples. I'm sure the caramel or candied apples from the Candy Palace are a lot more expensive than the plain apples from the Main Street Fruit Cart.

Chuck said...

I've always had trouble reading script, and believe it dates from that fateful day in 1972 when my mother accidentally gave a door-to-door fortune seller a Canadian quarter in payment. Enraged, she placed a hex upon my reading ability, and that, my dear children, is why we call it "cursive"... :-)

Okay, so, for a more accurate, candied-apples-to-candied-apples comparison, a caramel apple at the Candy Palace was $5.79 on January 28th, 2014, which works out to about 70¢ in 1957.

Of course, that doesn't take into account the $16 parking fee and the $92 entrance fee required to get to the Candy Palace to purchase said caramel apple. So, all told, acquisition of a Candy Palace candied apple requires an investment of $119.79 (not including tax), which works out to about $14.43 in 1957 dollars.

Chuck said...

I often wonder if Disneyland would have been as instantly popular and enduring if the prices in the early years were equivalent to today's prices. In 1957, an adult admission cost $1, while a Jumbo 15 ticket book cost $4. Today's $92 admission converts to $11.08 in 1957 dollars - more than twice the price.

Granted, there are more and more sophisticated things to do at Disneyland today, you can visit 365 days a year, and if you hit it on the right day, you can not only ride more than 15 rides, you can ride nothing but the surviving former "D" ticket attractions of 1957 (no "E" until 1959) all day without having to pick up additional tickets. That said, 20 years ago a Disneyland adult admission was $31, which works out to $5.87 in 1957 dollars, only slightly more expensive than a good day at the Park back then. (For the curious, a day's admission at that rate today would be $48.75, plus tax.)

Just an observation.

K. Martinez said...

Chuck - Can you calculate the cost of an 'E' Ticket if it was available today?

I know last time I paid for an individual 'E' ticket it was $.95 sometime around the late 1970s-early 80s.

Chuck said...

K. Martinez - For an accurate calculation, I was hoping to be able to pin that 95¢ price to a specific year, but I can't find a reference to it out there.

The last year given for a specific "E" ticket price at Jan's World ( is 1976, where the price is 85¢. 1976 was also the last year that individual ticket prices were printed in the Disneyland guides handed out at the gate and on the tickets themselves, which makes it hard to figure out what year the price jumped to 95¢. So here's 95¢ in 2014 dollars for the years 1977-82, the year that the A-E ticket system was discontinued.

1977 - $3.65
1978 - $3.40
1979 - $3.05
1980 - $2.69
1981 - $2.44
1982 - $2.29

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, all I know is that I never dressed that good while visiting an amusement park! Those were the days. And I’ll bet the lady in the 3rd pic was all about practicality by that time in her life.

Bill in Denver, we will be seeing those same kids at Disneyland… not as dressed up though (which is why I surmise that today’s picture was taken on Sunday). Enjoy the Super Bowl!

Chuck, they were magic apples! Worth every penny. Don’t ask why.

Irene, places like The Pike look SO great to me, I wish I had been able to experience them. Bummer that you didn’t get to ride the coaster. And yes, they are candy (or candied) apples!

K. Martinez, I can’t wait to post your great photos of this place at the end of its existence. Sad, but fascinating! I’ve already started putting the post together. I have a few pictures of Santa Cruz’s boardwalk, it’s time to scan those. One even includes this same mom and her sons.

Chuck, I still block-print everything. Always have. Door-to-door fortune tellers, now that’s a new one! some of those caramel apples at the Candy Palace are pretty fancy; by Disneyland standards I don’t even think they’re prices are too crazy. That being said, I’ve never purchased one!

Chuck again, I think so many people look at vintage ticket books and marvel that it cost only 5 bucks to get in (or whatever), and they don’t take inflation into account. I’m sure that’s why some people didn’t go more often… even back then it was not like seeing a matinee in the crummy downtown theater. I’ve seen articles (and you probably have too) from those days, complaining about the price of everything. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

K. Martinez and Chuck, it is fascinating to speculate on how much it would cost if you had to buy tickets for each attraction. Imagine… want to ride the Haunted Mansion? Fork over $7.50! Dumbo? Please pay $5. That would have gotten old in a hurry. Now I’m realizing how brilliant the ticket book idea (and later the "all you can ride" pass) was!

TokyoMagic! said...

I only got to visit the Pike once and I didn't take my camera with me, darn it. I was in 5th or 6th grade at the time and I do remember it being kind of dirty and run down. We played a few games, slid down the humongous slide, and rode a few rides. Unfortunately, the safety bar didn't "lock" on the last ride we went on. The "attendant" ignored our waving arms and our calls out to him and wouldn't stop the ride. Our trip was over after that. We left and never returned. The Pike closed down a year or two after that.

Melissa said...

Setting of "The Incredibly Strange Creatures who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!"

Nanook said...


Incredibly Strange... is the BEST.

Snow White Archive said...

Those are some cool catz!

Anonymous said...

The view in that last pic is very familiar. I know that we visited the Pike at least once, and maybe there were earlier trips that I didn't recall. It was called Nu-Pike when we visited, and I recall vividly that peculiar combination of odors referred to above. The Pike was dirty, odd smelling, and there were distinctly racy exhibits and items in shops that you could not show to the church ladies.

We visited the day after a Disneyland visit, so the memories of the two places made a vivid contrast. I remember thinking that the Pike was the kind of place that Disney must have been thinking about when he said he wanted Disneyland to be different.

It's so ironic now that Disneyland is replicating this environment in Paradise Pier.