The Rise of Pleasure Piers
Throughout the 20th century, historic Pleasure Piers became America’s centerpiece for preeminent entertainment and family amusement. Chicago’s Navy Pier, Santa Monica Pier, Coney Island’s Luna Park, and Galveston’s Pleasure Pier routinely drew record crowds and headliner entertainers. Originally, municipalities built most of these iconic piers for utility functions; but entrepreneurs with vision transformed these massive steel and concrete over-water platforms into Pleasure Piers, and tourism soared to new highs as a result.
Electric Park brought amusement seeking tourists to Galveston after its opening in 1906. Located at 23rd & Seawall Blvd., just two blocks from the current Pleasure Pier, this electric amusement park lit up the Galveston sky with thousands of incandescent bulbs. Excursionists flocked to Electric Park to experience attractions including a roller coaster, carousel, theater, as well as the park’s prized possession, The Aerial Swing. In the early 1900’s Galveston promoted itself as the “The Coney Island of the South.”
Galveston Pleasure Pier
The pier was originally built as a recreational facility for the United States military during World War II. In the 1940s it was transformed into the Galveston Pleasure Pier and quickly became king as the largest of its kind in the country. America’s top dance bands routinely filled the mammoth Marine ballroom, while outside, in an open-air stadium, patrons watched movies under a star-lit sky. Fishing facilities, a full carnival midway and an aquarium exceeded expectations. Galveston’s Pleasure Pier served as an iconic family destination through the ensuing decades, exponentially stimulating the island’s tourism, commerce and pride. The Galveston Pleasure Pier operated as a tourist destination until 1961 when Hurricane Carla severely damaged the property. The hurricane struck the Texas coast as a Category 4 hurricane, becoming one of the most powerful storms to ever strike the United States.
Four years after Hurricane Carla, the Flagship Hotel opened on the once devastated Pleasure Pier and became a catalyst for tourism. The Flagship quickly became an icon, offering a one of a kind hotel over the Gulf, staying open for over 40 years. On September 13, 2008, after passing over, Hurricane Ike made its final landfall near Galveston as a strong Category 2 hurricane.
Plans for the Pier
In 2009, Landry’s, Inc. informed the city planning commission in Galveston that plans were to build an amusement park on the pier. In early 2011, renovations began on the new Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. In January 2012, Landry’s, Inc. revealed a monumental renovation plan for Galveston Island, transforming the Pleasure Pier into a world‐class amusement park for all ages. Landry’s vision recaptured the site’s original purpose as a pleasure pier, a preeminent destination venue for family fun.
Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier Opens
The Pleasure Pier opened in May of 2012 to crowds of excited Galvestonians and tourists alike. This multi-million dollar family destination brings the glory of Galveston’s famous history into the present with fun for young and old. Focused on waterfront fun and entertainment like no other Gulf Coast destination, the Pleasure Pier features family‐oriented attractions including 16 rides, midway games, retail shops and a wide selection of food venues, including Texas’ first Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.