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on the street

Photos: A look back at Revere, America’s first public beach

The city was a thriving summertime destination for over a century

As folks strolled in their weekend finery, booths boarded up for the winter were now open with games of chance and advertised summer staples like glasses of buttermilk, Coca-Cola, and ice cream. Along the boulevard stood Trask's Restaurant and the Derby Racer, one of 15 roller coasters in the park and the one owned by Howard Trask, the restaurateur.
As folks strolled in their weekend finery, booths boarded up for the winter were now open with games of chance and advertised summer staples like glasses of buttermilk, Coca-Cola, and ice cream. Along the boulevard stood Trask's Restaurant and the Derby Racer, one of 15 roller coasters in the park and the one owned by Howard Trask, the restaurateur.Globe Photo/The Boston Globe - The Boston Gl

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Celebrated as the first public beach in America, Revere Beach, with its noisy arcades and famous fried food, served as a cheap and easy escape from downtown Boston for over a century. Gradually, the good times faded. The roller coaster came down and the dance halls closed. The summer crowds, once huge, moved on. The destruction caused by the Blizzard of ’78 provided a final blow. A handful of beach bars and ice cream stands — and the original Kelly’s Roast Beef — serve as reminders of those glory days.

Revere Beach during a hot afternoon in August 1935. Seen in the background is the new Ocean Pier constructed in 1911 and the Pier Dancing Pavilion. In its heyday, more than 250,000 bathers would relax along Revere Beach's shores on hot summer days.
Revere Beach during a hot afternoon in August 1935. Seen in the background is the new Ocean Pier constructed in 1911 and the Pier Dancing Pavilion. In its heyday, more than 250,000 bathers would relax along Revere Beach's shores on hot summer days.Globe file photo/The Boston Globe


 The first electric trolley car that ran from Revere Beach to Boston on Ocean Ave. is pictured in 1890.
The first electric trolley car that ran from Revere Beach to Boston on Ocean Ave. is pictured in 1890. Mrs. Fred White/Handout/The Boston Globe
A portion of the 48,000 who flocked to Suffolk Downs and bet more than 2 million dollars combined on races watched the track on May 30, 1946.
A portion of the 48,000 who flocked to Suffolk Downs and bet more than 2 million dollars combined on races watched the track on May 30, 1946. Boston Globe Archive//The Boston Globe
The crowd at Revere Beach swimming and bathing in 1962.
The crowd at Revere Beach swimming and bathing in 1962.Bob Dean/The Boston Globe - The Boston Gl
Revere Beach was a destination spot for many beachgoers and amusement park aficionados. Here, at right, Mr. Peter Sousi and Mr. Michael Federico, both of Roslindale, visited for a stroll on the beach.
Revere Beach was a destination spot for many beachgoers and amusement park aficionados. Here, at right, Mr. Peter Sousi and Mr. Michael Federico, both of Roslindale, visited for a stroll on the beach. Ted Dully/Globe Staff photo/The Boston Globe
The main drag's noisy arcades and fried food stands along Revere Beach on June 12, 1972.
The main drag's noisy arcades and fried food stands along Revere Beach on June 12, 1972.Blanding, John Globe Staff/The Boston Globe
Bathers jammed every square foot of Revere Beach, awaiting a band concert on July 27, 1974.
Bathers jammed every square foot of Revere Beach, awaiting a band concert on July 27, 1974. George Rizer/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe


The Himalayan ride at the Funland amusement area of Revere Beach in 1974.
The Himalayan ride at the Funland amusement area of Revere Beach in 1974. tom landers/PDFPAGES
People strolled the boardwalk on May 1, 1972.
People strolled the boardwalk on May 1, 1972.Frank Wing/The Boston Globe
Nathan and Beatrice Ginsburt of Revere, both in their 70s, danced to the tunes of the band at Wonderland Ballroom on Nov. 3, 1974.
Nathan and Beatrice Ginsburt of Revere, both in their 70s, danced to the tunes of the band at Wonderland Ballroom on Nov. 3, 1974. David L. Ryan, Globe Staff
Hurley's served hungry patrons on Revere Beach Boulevard in 1987.
Hurley's served hungry patrons on Revere Beach Boulevard in 1987.Bill Curtis/The Boston Globe
Ron DiVola, 14, Rick DiVola, 15, and Mike Elwell, all of Charlestown, Mass., cooled off as waves broke against the seawall at Revere Beach in on May 23, 1980.
Ron DiVola, 14, Rick DiVola, 15, and Mike Elwell, all of Charlestown, Mass., cooled off as waves broke against the seawall at Revere Beach in on May 23, 1980. Bill Greene/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe
Sunbathers enjoyed the rays at Revere Beach as the contrast in time is apparent in the background. Luxury high-rise condos had replaced the amusements and arcades once found along the boulevard. The beach area, ravaged by the Blizzard of 1978, saw a $130-million private and public redevelopment project bring apartments and condominiums near the waterfront.
Sunbathers enjoyed the rays at Revere Beach as the contrast in time is apparent in the background. Luxury high-rise condos had replaced the amusements and arcades once found along the boulevard. The beach area, ravaged by the Blizzard of 1978, saw a $130-million private and public redevelopment project bring apartments and condominiums near the waterfront.Paul R. Benoit, Globe staff phot/The Boston Globe
Senior citizens of Revere sat in the shade of the Revere Beach bandstand as others strolled along the beach on Sept. 26, 1979.
Senior citizens of Revere sat in the shade of the Revere Beach bandstand as others strolled along the beach on Sept. 26, 1979. Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe




Janelle Nanos can be reached at janelle.nanos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.