Today, Clason Point is a quiet residential neighborhood in the southeastern Bronx that is home to about 25,000 residents. The area is one of the city’s hidden gems, situated along the East River with idyllic views of Manhattan, LaGuardia airport, and the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges. The 2018 addition of the NYC Soundview ferry and the recent service expansion to Throgs Neck is ushering in new residents, drawn by the neighborhood’s tranquility, affordability, and accessibility to Manhattan.

Clason Point wasn’t always the unfamiliar enclave that it is, in large part, today. From the late 1880s to around 1935, the neighborhood was a major tourist attraction and home to a massive amusement district, complete with arcades, dancehalls, waterfront resorts, and a massive outdoor saltwater swimming pool known as “The Inkwell” due to its dirty, unfiltered water that came straight from the East River. There were ferryboat and steamer excursions from Clason Point to downtown Manhattan and a local service to College Point, Queens. Regarded as the “Coney Island of the Bronx,” Clason Point was always buzzing with working and middle-class New Yorkers who would flock there during warm weather. 

It was a warm late spring day in Clason Point on June 11, 1922, when 75 mile per hour storm winds toppled a 100-foot ferris wheel, ripping the structure from its supports and tossing it onto the beach ten feet below its base. The freak accident killed eight and injured more than two dozen, as riders were tossed from the wheel’s baskets and crushed. The tragedy began the decline of the amusement park, once buzzing with working- and middle-class city residents. Over the years, the amusement park’s attractions shuttered, leaving behind only a few arcade games, the pool, and a pier by the end of the decade. Coastal pollution, declining attendance, the Great Depression, and construction from the Whitestone Bridge ultimately shuttered the park for good.

Swimming Pool at Clason Point Park
Image courtesy Bronx Historical Society from a postcard dated in 1929

By 1949, the area was no longer an amusement district, though the Shorehaven Beach Club was born. Developers Mal Deitch and Joseph Goodstein transformed the defunct Clason Point Bathing and Amusement Park, into an upscale private resort with a swimming pool, cabanas, playground, and a performance space that hosted live entertainment.

Historic Inn at Clason Point
Image courtesy Bronx Historical Society

The beach club operated until 1986 before closing its doors due to dwindling membership, competition, and increasing operational costs. Today, the site is home to a 57-acre gated condominium community known as Shorehaven, that maintains a resort-style feel and offers residents an outdoor swimming pool and several amenity spaces.

Postcard from Clason Point amusement park
Image courtesy Bronx Historical Society

While the neighborhood has drastically changed, many of its longtime residents can recall its Shorehaven Beach Club days and some even have ties to that fateful ferris wheel tragedy in 1922. It might now seem like it on a surface level, but the Clason Point of today is in many ways inspired by its past, while shaping its future.

Next, check out more lost amusement parks in NYC.