Category Archives: Parks

Amusement Parks: Rye Playland

Ride on: An iconic Westchester amusement park is at a turning point

Rye Playland, photo from Hudson Valley Magazine (May 2014)

Rye Playland, photo from Hudson Valley Magazine (May 2014)

Even if you’ve never been to Rye Playland, you might recognize it from the 1980s blockbuster movies Big and Fatal Attraction, which used the amusement park’s Art Deco buildings and retro rides as a stylish backdrop. But nothing can replace a visit to this nostalgic spot on Long Island Sound. Playland debuted in 1928. “It is the first totally planned amusement park,” says Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks. “It is also the only government-run amusement park on this scale in the country.” In addition to seven of the original 1920s rides — the most famous being the wooden Dragon Coaster — the 280-acre park has contemporary attractions (like the gravity-defying Super Flight) and a kiddie land with 21 rides, bringing the grand total to 47. There’s also a pool and, of course, the beach. The boardwalk is also back: Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of it, but the original pine was replaced by a more durable Brazilian hardwood. (The landmark Ice Casino skating arena also took a big hit, but is set to reopen this fall.) “It clearly needs a face-lift and some updating,” says Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham, chairman of the committee overseeing the transition of the park’s operation to Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI), a nonprofit which won a bid to restore the park and keep it financially viable. “The discussion is about how best to keep it as a park. Playland is on the National Register of Historic Places, so anything we do has to be within that context.” While SPI’s proposal originally called for reducing the number of rides, that idea has been nixed. “A number of people, and I’m one of them, feel that the amusement component is critical,” says Harckham. “They’re maintaining the size and bringing in Central Amusement International as an operator. They’re the folks who did the renovation of Coney Island.” Another part of the plan that has changed is a reduction in the size of the field house to be built in the parking lot, from 95,000 to 82,500 square feet. An aquatics activity center, restaurants, and a children’s museum are all part of the Playland Improvement Plan (PIP), available to read at www.sustainableplayland.org. Reaction has been mixed. Foes say that the field house is still too big and the overall plan will create noise and congestion, among other issues. Others welcome the idea of a year-round recreation destination, as it would stimulate the local economy. For his part, Harckham is optimistic. “No matter what decision we make on the PIP, people should know that Playland is open for business this summer — and it’s only going to get better.” Opening day is May 10. $30, $10 spectators (no rides), under 3 free. 914-813-7000; www.ryeplayland.org

Reprinted from Hudson Valley Magazine, May 2014

Mt. Beacon on the Hudson

Beaconcrest

 
Source: Historic Wallkill and the Hudson River Valleys; 1912

Information here is for archival purposes, and is not current. 

 

Mt. Beacon on the Hudson

This historic mountain is situated on the East bank of the Hudson River, 59 miles from New York City, and directly opposite Newburgh; it has been leased to the Mt. Beacon-on-the-Hudson hotel Company, who propose to make this one of the finest outing places in this country. They own and control some 800 acres of wild mountain land, including the Historic Mount Beacon.

The New Hotel Beaconcrest
on the summit of Mt. Beacon, has 75 guest chambers. The beautiful villages of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan nestle at the base of Mt. Beacon. Seven railroads are to be seen from its summit, the New York, the New Haven & Hartford. The New York Central, the West Shore, the Erie, the Newburgh, Dutchess & Connecticut, the Ontario & Western and the Poughkeepsie & Eastern.

The Hudson River
is in view for 30 miles of its course, from the Highlands on the South with the broad expansion of Newburgh Bay, the city of Newburgh and the Shawangunk mountains in the West, while to the North can be seen the Poughkeepsie Bridge with the Catskill and Adirondack mountains beyond

The Steepest Incline in the World
leads up to the West spur of North Beacon; it is 2200 feet long with a vertical elevation of 1200 feet, it is run by electric power and is built for absolute safety. On the Eastern crest stands a monument erected by the
Daughters of the Revolution

to commemorate the burning of beacon fires during the occupation of New York by the British. From here Washington and his officers received signals on the movements of the enemy. The top of Mt. Beacon is laid out as a park with walks and summer houses, a
Large Casino
with a free dancing hall, dining-rooms and spacious balconies, a roof observatory which with
 Powerful Telescopes
 
And one of the largest searchlights with a thirty-six inch reflector, bringing to view the Hudson with its line of tow boats and brilliantly lighted night boats with their crowds of tourists. The vicinity of New York offers no more beautiful and healthful spot for a day’s or a week’s outing. None more instructive and inspiring to the patriotism of the young man than Mt. Beacon-on-the-Hudson. In addition to the above mentioned roads Mt. Beacon can be reached by the day line boats. The casino is being equipped by United Wireless Telegraph Co.

Peekskill Fire Department Alarm Bell

With the Hudson River serving as a backdrop in Peekskill, NY, stands a tribute to seven volunteer firefighters. On the Peekskill Waterfront Green, if you look up instead of out to the Hudson River, you’ll see what is an actual artifact from the City of Peekskill’s history, while also serving as a remembrance to those that gave their lives in service to their community.

The bell itself is a thing of beauty. When looking directly at it when the sun is just right, it seems angelic. Taking a closer look at the plaque just below, though you find out exactly who those seven angels were. The bronzed inscription reads as follows:


ON AUGUST 1, 1918 THIS BELL TOLLED THE ALARM FOR THE
FLEISCHMANN MANUFACTURING COMPANY FIRE,
AT WHICH SEVEN PEEKSKILL VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS LOST THEIR LIVES. 

DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE GALLANT MEN
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN TH FLEISCHMANN FIRE
AUGUST 1, 1918

DEPARTMENT SURGEON DR. CHARLES R.F. GREEN – CORTLANDT HOOK & LADDER CO #1
CAPTAIN CLARENCE J. LOCKWOOD – CORTLANDT HOOK & LADDER CO #1
1ST LT. JAMES H. SELLECK – CORTLANDT HOOK & LADDER CO #1
2ND LT. LOUIS A. BARMORE – CORTLANDT HOOK & LADDER CO #1
FIREFIGHTER GEORGE A. CASSACLES – CORTLANDT HOOK & LADDER CO #1
FIREFIGHTER JOHN F. TORPY – CENTENNIAL HOSE CO #4
FIREFIGHTER WALTER COLE – CENTENNIAL HOSE CO #4
“GREATER LOVE HAS NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN
LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS.”
JOHN 15:13