Pontchartrain Beach 

Pontchartrain Beach was an amusement park located in New Orleans, Louisiana, on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It was founded by Harry J. Batt Sr. and later mananged by his son, Harry J. Batt Jr. It opened in 1928, across Bayou St. John from the existing amusement resort at Old Spanish Fort. In the early 1930s, as part of the lake shore was filled in and a seawall built, Pontchartrain Beach was moved to a new location at the lake end of Elysian Fields Avenue, a location formerly the lake edge of Milneburg before being filled in. Milneburg Lighthouse, dating from the 1850s, predated Pontchartrain Beach, was a landmark in the park for decades, and still stands after Pontchartrain Beach is long gone. The park was originally racially segregated for "Whites Only"; another lakefront resort was reserved for "Colored", Lincoln Beach. Pontchartrain Beach was integrated in the early 1960s and Lincoln Beach closed.

Pontchartrain Beach included a beach, amusement rides (including a large roller coaster, The Zephyr), and concession stands. The park featured live music concerts, including many local musicians and touring national acts such as Elvis Presley. "The Beach" also featured the exotic Bali Hai south seas restaurant, which actually survived as a banquet hall long after the amusement park's closure. For many in New Orleans, Bali Hai was the local equivalent to a Trader Vics style restaurant with its asian bamboo decor, popular tiki inspired drinks and unique cuisine. Another popular restaurant was the Ship Ahoy, which featured hamburgers and seafood.

Postcard of the BoardwalkOther rides included the Zephyr Junior, Smoky Mary, The Wild Maus, Musik Express, Log Ride, The Ragin' Cajun (looping steel coaster), The Bug, Paratrooper, Calypso, "The Airplanes", Haunted House, Ghost Train, bumper cars, Ferris wheel, the Monster, Trabant, Sky Ride, Hard Rock, Galaxie, Laff in the Dark, Magic Rainbow, Red Baron, and many others. In addition to rides, there were also the summertime shows which changed every few years (Skipper & Dolly dolphin show, Great American High Dive Show, Merlin's Magic Rainbow Show). For a few years there was also a fairly large petting zoo with many farm animals and a huge red barnhouse

Pontchartrain Beach was closed September 23, 1983, due to decreasing attendance, rising insurance costs, pollution concerns in the lake, and the impending competition of the 1984 World's Fair. Several of the rides ended up in Gulf Shores, Alabama, at a small amusement park - including The Airplanes and many Kiddieland rides - which was subsequently wiped out by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Much of the land formerly housing the park is now used by the University of New Orleans

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Gene Leingang

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