changing animation osprey platforms and wild vegetation on long beach

2015: PLEASURE BEACH LIVES IS RETIRED. LONG LIVE PLEASURE BEACH! Now that the City of Bridgeport has instated a free water taxi to Pleasure Beach, the public park access project Pleasure Beach Lives has retired. Read on for more information about the project.

Pleasure Beach Lives (2012-2014) was a socially engaged art project by Emily Larned. PBL hosted seasonal walks from Stratford's Long Beach to Bridgeport's Pleasure Beach. We toured the burned bridge, the assorted architectural ruins, and of course, the wildly spectacular beach. All walks were free and open to the public; many of the walks were led by specialists such as naturalists or historians. The project aimed to reconnect folks to the park while it was otherwise inaccessible to the public.

ABOUT PLEASURE BEACH LIVES   Pleasure Beach has become unique and astonishing through its isolation. In an already stunning urban seaside setting, 16 years of inaccessibility has allowed nature to reclaim its rather grand architectural ruins. Its current state of decay, so emblematic of Bridgeport, has transformed Pleasure Beach into Park City's meta-park. Pleasure Beach is one of the most amazing places I've ever seen, and I wanted to share it with others. In order to connect people to Pleasure Beach when it was otherwise inaccessible, I began organizing guided walks in July 2012.

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walking through a field on Pleasure beach

ABOUT PLEASURE BEACH   Pleasure Beach, a large terminus of a narrow barrier beach peninsula in Stratford, has belonged to Bridgeport for nearly a century. The bridge that connected it to the Bridgeport mainland burned in 1996. Since then, it has grown wild with piping plovers, osprey, cacti, turtles, deer, rabbits and foxes, while the existing structures left from its amusement park / public beach days have deteriorated into a living ruins. Today's Pleasure Beach is spectacular, and it is accessible by foot at all tides via Stratford's ruggedly beautiful Long Beach.

the demolished carousel on Pleasure beach

Whether you've been to Pleasure Beach just once recently or went every summer as a child, it will come as no surprise that lots of folks have deep attachments to it, and many have found it inspirational.

2011 History of Pleasure Beach Bridgeport History Center's account
2010 Report from Pleasure Beach Connecticut Magazine article provides overview
2005 Dino's Photos photos of LBW Cottages & carousel on Pleasure Beach (now both demolished)
1996 Bridge Burns New York Times article about the bridge destruction

2012 Conservation plans article in Audubon magazine chronicles recent conservation attempts
2011 Pleasure Beach Community Meeting reporting from the community meeting
2011 Pleasure Beach Master Plan slide presentation & transcript from the community meeting

2010 Overtaking the LBW Cottages Brooklyn artists create in/on cottages prior to demolition
2010 Photography by Rob Dobi Photographer Rob Dobi documents the ruins of New England
2010 Photography by Michelle Beaulieu LBW cottages and beach

Save Pleasure Beach website with historical timeline, video, photos, letters, newspaper articles
Friends of Pleasure Beach Facebook page, with many archival clippings and contributed photos
Pleasure Beach Lives our Facebook page

here's a rule prickly pear at Pleasure Beach the lovely seaside Pleasure Beach

VISIT PLEASURE BEACH   From 1996-2014, the only way to get to Pleasure Beach was by private boat, or by foot from Stratford's Long Beach. This has changed now that the City of Bridgeport has inaugurated a free water taxi as of June 28, 2014. You can find out more about the water taxi here. But: you can also walk to Pleasure Beach along the lovely two miles of Stratford's Long Beach (directions & info) on your own, or join us on one of our guided walks. However, be sure to leave any four-legged friends at home. In order to protect endangered shorebirds, dogs are not allowed on the beach from April through November. And, while walking on Long Beach, be sure to avoid the fenced-off nesting areas of the piping plovers. Between Memorial and Labor Day LB has a permit parking lot ($20 fee for non-Stratford residents), so if you're looking to save money, some folks park outside of the gate and walk from there. Be sure to follow all posted parking regulations. Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, parking in the Long Beach lot is free.

Don't have a car to drive to Long Beach? Take the bus to Lordship Blvd (route 113) and ride your bike on 113 North through the marsh to Lordship; turn right on Oak Bluff Ave, which dead-ends into the Long Beach parking lot.

Prefer to travel by sea? We've noticed folks arrive at Pleasure Beach by kayak, boat or jet ski. If you're paddling you can row right up to shore, but if your boat is larger there's a dock on the west side of the island.

Is this legal, you're wondering? Long Beach is a public park, open to all: just mind the roped-off nesting habitats. (When the LBWest cottages were still up, it WAS illegal to go near them, although the park itself remained open. This has caused some lasting confusion.) For many years, Pleasure Beach was technically a closed park, but remember that coastal-access is guaranteed by state law, so if you stay below the high tide mark you are on open land. Now that the City has restored access via water taxi, part of the park is officially open.

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The creation of the above poster and this website were supported in part by a 2012 Mayor's Neighborhood Arts & Heritage Grant, offered by the Mayor's Office and the Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council (BACC).

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2014 WALKS

History Tour of Pleasure Beach Sunday June 29, 4:30pm: Guided by Bridgeport Social Studies teacher Rich Deecken
History Tour of Pleasure Beach Sunday July 20, 4:30pm: Guided by author & UB Professor Eric Lehman

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2013 WALKS

Flora Pleasure Beach September 15, 3pm: UB Bio professor Dr. Kitty Engelmann leads a tour of plant life.
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday August 25, 5:30pm: we'll be joined by a former Pleasure Beach vacationer, last there '53!
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday July 28, 5:30pm
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday June 23, 5:30pm: Master Wildlife Conservationist David Wright guides the tour.
Flora Pleasure Beach Sunday May 12, 1pm: UB Bio professor Dr. Kitty Engelmann leads a tour of plant life.
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday April 21, 1pm

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2012 WALKS

Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday November 25
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday October 21
Walk Pleasure Beach + return trip clean-up Sunday September 23
Clean-up Pleasure Beach Sunday August 12
Walk Pleasure Beach Sunday July 22

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