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Lincoln Beach

Despite its historical diversity, New Orleans was a segregated city. African-Americans had their own designated beach. Modeled somewhat after Pontchartrain Beach on Lake Pontchartrain, Lincoln Beach was an African-American resort and a major attraction from 1939 to 1965. The area had two swimming pools, pavilions, a carousel, and a beautiful seaside. It was also a venue for rhythm-and-blues musician Fats Domino, who found his "thrill on Blueberry Hill" but enjoyed entertaining and relaxing at Lincoln Beach.

Lincoln Beach retained its importance to African-American residents after New Orleans became desegregated, but gradually slipped into ruin and abandonment by the end of the 20th century.

Lincoln Beach's first bath house, in 1941, just after construction; this building became a restaurant at the time of the 1953 renovationIn 2000 Louisiana officials, the Coast Guard, and resident volunteers worked to restore the beach. Lincoln Beach fell into ruins again when hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005. Plans to revitalize Lincoln Beach are once again underway. In March 2007, developers announced a $300 million restoration program to a surprised City Council. An architectural firm from California is undertaking the project with the development team.

Lincoln Beach served New Orleans' African-American community during the era of segregation.  The land where Lincoln Beach was located was deeded to the city by Samuel Zemurray in 1938 and purchased within a year by the Levee Board.  A bath house and sand beach were constructed in 1940 and, eventually, some amusement rides were added. 

Lincoln Beach's first bath house, in 1941, just after construction; this building became a restaurant at the time of the 1953 renovation However, the Beach didn't flourish until 1953, when the Levee Board undertook a major renovation and expansion.  The midway was expanded, picnic shelters and a new bath house were constructed, as well as a swimming pool.  Lincoln Beach became a popular amusement area and many famous entertainers performed there, such as Nat King Cole, Fats Domino and Ray Charles.  Lincoln Beach closed in 1964 after a federal order forbidding segregated facilities was enacted.  The neglected buildings eventually fell into disrepair and were allowed to decay, victims of nature and vandals.  At various times, plans have been discussed to bring the property back to life. 


 

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