10. Happyland (1906-1935)

Roller Boller CoasterRoller Boller Coaster / Photo from Wikimedia Commons by NYPL.

Happyland was an amusement park in South Beach, Staten Island, in operation from 1906 to 1935. South Beach is currently one of Staten Island’s most popular public beaches with a perfect view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the notable Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk. The 15-acre amusement park opened at the South Beach boardwalk to excited families and theatergoers, as Happyland often staged productions and Vaudeville shows since many Broadway theaters shut for the summer.

The park was known for its Roller Boller Coaster, Japanese Tea Gardens, Canals of Venice, a shooting gallery, and a skating rink. Aviator Lincoln Beachey made two flights a day between Happyland and Manhattan for ten days in June 1907, surviving an incident in which his plane’s propeller got tangled with a balloon. Fortune tellers, card printers, and photography studios opened up right near Happyland in the 1910s, yet a 1919 fire destroyed 40 buildings. The park was rebuilt but never achieved its prestige of earlier years, and the park continued to decline after a series of five suspicious fires in 1929.