Alameda History & Homes
When I tell people that Alameda used to be home to a resort and amusement park as big as the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, I get a lot of looks of disbelief. But, it’s true - from 1917 to 1939, Alameda was home to Neptune Beach, a grand swimming pool and amusement park destination. The park was located on a beach front zone - now known as Crab Cove. Admission was a dime.
Swimming, Dancing, and Racing
The attraction boasted the world’s largest outdoor swimming facility - over 300 feet long - and had dressing rooms to fit 8,000.
Besides the swimming pool, the park also featured a roller coaster with views of the Bay, a hand-carved carousel, picnic areas, BBQ pits, and a clubhouse for dances. There were steeplechase and horse races, high-diving competitions, and ballroom dancing championships. It even featured some of the earliest synchronized swimming demonstrations. (source: The Alamedan)
Neptune Gardens resort “became famous under the ownership of Fred J. Croll by attracting thousands on weekends for special events such as boxing matches with John L. Sullivan and Jim Corbett. It became Neptune Beach “the Coney Island of the West” (1917-1939). (source: AlamedaMuseum.org)
Bathing Pools, Ballrooms and Boxing - Alameda in the 1800’s
Before Neptune Gardens existed, Terrace Baths opened in Alameda in 1870. The resort along the coast featured “baths” for swimming, along with amusement centers, ballrooms, and saloons.
The Cottage Baths were vacation cottage rentals and hosted celebrity clientele like Ethel Barrymore, Al Jolson, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jack London.
The Croll Building (Central and Webster) was once the site of Croll's Gardens and Hotel from 1883-1914, famous as training quarters for some of the greatest boxers of the time, and many champions stayed and trained here. Today this building is home to 1400 Bar & Grill. The building is registered as a California Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
End of an Era
According to Wikipedia, Neptune Gardens closed down in 1939 “because of the Great Depression, the completion of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, people circumventing paying the admission price and in general, the rise of car culture.”
Though some of the original “resort” homes near Neptune Beach are still near Crab Cove, most of the structures, such as the ferris wheel, roller coaster, and the carousel were auctioned off in 1940.
See old postcards and images of Neptune Beach: Alamedainfo.com
Sources and to read more:
The Alamedan: Alameda in History: Neptune Beach, easy to reach!
Alameda Museum: History
Wikipedia: Neptune Beach
(image credit: AlamedaInfo.com) hyperlink: https://alamedainfo.com)
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