In 1884, on this very spot, there was a small beachside amusement center consisting of [...] offering refreshments, games, and rides. [...] years later, amusements pioneers Arthur Looff and John Friedle transformed this campy carnival by the sea into the beloved amusement park eventually known as Playland-at-the-Beach.
Since 1914 John Friedle had been involved with the beach's carnival stands and Arthur Looff had managed and operated "Looff's Hippodrome," a merry-go-round built by his father, Charles I. D. Loof, [...] amusement rides at New York's Coney Island. But when Friedle bought the Hippodrome and teamed up with Arthur Looff, magic happened. Friedle spent a fortune on new attractions and Looff, a mechanical genius, designed and built each one. By 1921 the creative partners established the "grandest amusement park on the Pacific Coast," with such attractions as The Bob Sled Dipper, the "highest, fastest, and most sensational" roller coaster on earth; The Chutes, a boat ride with an incredible view and a splash of a finish; and The Big Dipper, which opened in 1922 and was considered Looff's ultimate creation.
In 1926, concessionaire George K. Whitney became Ocean Beach's amusement park manager. Prior to his arrival, the park's name had changed over the years, ranging from "Looff's Hippodrome" to "Chutes-at-the-Beach."
In 1928, Whitney's public relations man coined the name that would identify the park for the rest of its days: Playland-at-the-Beach.
During The Great Depression, Whitney and his brother Leo protected Playland from the failing economy by buying out each of the concessions. By 1942, the Whitneys owned everything from Sutro Baths to Fulton Street.
The Whitney brothers rebuilt all of Playland in the late 1940 and early 1950s, but by the 1960s its popularity had deteriorated. After George Whitney died [...] 197?, Playland was snatched up by real-estate developer Jeremy Ets-Hokin, who planned to build "a small, beautiful, urban community at the edge of a great city."
"I never believed that they would tear down Playland. I truly, to the last day, never believed it would happen..."