Playland at the Beach was a 10-acre seaside amusement park in San Francisco along Ocean Beach, just down from where the Cliff House is now and where the Sutro Baths used to be. It was established as Playland in 1928 when George Whitney became general manager of the growing complex of attractions (they were mostly independently owned and operated, but the Whitney Brothers started purchasing pieces as they could). George Whitney operated Playland for decades, but after his death in 1958, Playland was just never the same. Over the next decade, it became run down and was eventually purchased by a developer in 1971 and was torn down on September 4, 1972. Condominiums now occupy the space where Playland used to be.
Here’s the trailer for the documentary:
This documentary is charming, heartfelt, and poignant. There are plenty of great interviews with people who visited the park frequently, as well as workers, all having their own fond memories of their special times at Playland. There are video clips and photographs showing what a fantastic place it was, and how people and the times changed through the years of its existence.
Last year, Nick and I went to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach, a non-profit museum and activity center dedicated to keeping alive the wonder, magic, and history of San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach. It’s nice to know a part of Playland is still alive and well, even if it’s not at the beach anymore, but in El Cerrito, across the Bay. If you love San Francisco, I highly recommend watching this documentary about one of The City’s most treasured memories, and even taking a trip over to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach to help keep its spirit alive.
Side note: Ever had an “It’s-It“? You know, the ice cream sandwich made with two giant, chewy oatmeal cookies, the whole thing dipped in dark, delicious chocolate? They were created at Playland at the Beach, and for decades were only sold there. Only after Playland closed were they manufactured elsewhere and sold to their adoring fans. Just one more reason Playland was truly a magical place.
Remembering Playland At the Beach DVD