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Long Beach Heritage Tour

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A Tour of Long Beach's Past and Present
Photo © Linda Tagliaferro

Long Beach, New York

Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
On a bright summer day, I had the pleasure of taking a Long Beach Heritage Bus Tour offered by the Long Beach Island Landmarks Association. Historian Douglas Sheer, who is a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things Long Beach, gave a running commentary on the fascinating history of the island as we passed by places that still remain, or the remnants of past attractions that once stood on Long Beach.

Mr. Sheer explained that the entire island, a large barrier island just south of Long Island proper, is called Long Beach. However, the City of Long Beach covers a large part of the island, but to the west, Atlantic Beach, and to the east, Lido Beach and Point Lookout -- although physically on Long Beach Island-- are not considered part of the city.

The island's journey from its storied past into its scenic present began with a dream. Former New York State Senator William H. Reynolds (1867-1931), who had previously developed Dreamland, an over-the-top amusement park in Coney Island, wished to transform a then remote stretch of sand into "The Riviera of the East." For several decades, he succeeded in putting Long Beach on the map as a world-class destination, but when the era of the jet plane easily whisked people away to beach vacations in places like Florida, this seasonal resort lost its only-for-the-rich-and-famous cachet. But to this day, Long Beach's sprawling, sugar-fine sands attract a wealth of residents and visitors alike to its idyllic beachside shores.

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