|Revere Beach Reservation|
|Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston|
Revere Beach in 2005
|Elevation||10 ft (3 m) |
|Area||84 acres (34 ha) |
|Management||Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation|
|Website: Revere Beach Reservation|
Revere Beach Reservation
Revere Beach Blvd. in c. 1910
|Architect||Charles Eliot; William D. Austin of Stickney & Austin|
|NRHP reference #||03000642, 98000871|
|Added to NRHP||May 27, 2003|
|Designated NHL||May 27, 2003|
Revere Beach is a public beach in Revere, Massachusetts, USA, located about 4 miles north of downtown Boston. Revere Beach was founded in 1895 as the first public beach in the United States. More than 250,000 bathers might relax along Revere's shores on hot summer afternoons.
In 1875, the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad or "Narrow Gauge" came to Revere Beach, making it more accessible and greatly increasing its popularity as a summer recreation area. Various beach-related and recreational buildings sprang up along the beach itself, which was constrained by the nearness of the railroad to the high tide mark.
In 1896, the Beach was taken over by the Metropolitan Park Commission (which was later to become the Metropolitan District Commission). That year, the process of clearing the beach of the buildings and moving the narrow gauge tracks of the BRB&L back to the alignment now used by the MBTA Blue Line began. On July 12, Revere Beach was opened as the first public beach in the nation. Thanks to the design of landscape architect Charles Eliot, Revere Beach was "the first to be set aside and governed by a public body for the enjoyment of the common people." An estimated 45,000 people showed up on opening day.
At the foot of Beachmont Hill was the Great Ocean Pier, which extended 1,450 feet (442 m) out to Cherry Island Bar, completely roofed over to within 200 feet (61 m) of the end. It was used as a dance pavilion, a sumptuous cafe and a large skating rink, all on a grand scale, with steamer service every half-hour to Boston and Nahant. The foundation required 2,000 piles; 1,200 yards (1,097 m) of canvas covered the piazza and 500,000 shingles were used on the various roofs.
The main entrance to the beach was at Revere Street. A visitor had a number of choices as to where he or she would spend the holiday or vacation. Each presented its own assortment of pleasures but all shared the rolling surf, the beauty of the open sea, the cooling breezes and the view of the crescent shaped beach which extended 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from end to end.
From its inception, Revere Beach was "the people's beach," used mostly by the working class and the many immigrants who chose to settle in the area. Visitors were described in 1909 as "industrious, well-behaved and a really desirable class of people, of many nationalities to be sure, but neighborly and polite...with one another."
The beach also included a number of amusements, such as The Whip, Ferris Wheel, Bluebeard's Palace, Fun House, Hurley's Dodgems, the Pit, Himalaya, Hippodrome, Sandy's, the Wild Mouse, the Virginia Reel among others. A major attraction was the Cyclone, among the largest roller coasters in the United States and regarded as one of the most extreme ever created. Opened in 1927, its cars traveled at a speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) and its climb reached 100 feet (30 m). There was also the infamous racing roller coaster Derby Racer which caused numerous deaths and grave injuries in its 25 years of operation, and the Lightning, a member of Harry Traver's "Terrifying Triplets," serving its ranks of devotees.
In addition to the sand, surf and amusements, there were two roller skating rinks, two bowling alleys and numerous food stands. There were also the ballrooms, including the most famous, the Oceanview and the Beachview, each the site of many dance marathons, popular in the 1930s. During World War II, the Beachview became a barracks as "More than 450 soldiers are now quartered there, eating mess from field kitchens set up on the dance floor." For the teen set, The Seaside was popular for its weekend remote broadcasts featuring local live bands. Revere Beach is the site of the original Kelly's Roast Beef that opened in 1951.
In her memoirs entitled Teaching Arabs, Writing Self (2014), Evelyn Shakir gives a detailed description of her childhood on Revere Beach in the 1940s and 1950s, in particular, the workings of the Cyclone roller coaster, for which her uncle was responsible.
The Beach began to deteriorate in the late 1960s, and by the early 1970s had become a strip of honky tonk bars and abandoned buildings. The "Blizzard of 1978" proved to be the final death knell for the "old" Revere Beach, as many of the remaining businesses, amusements, pavilions, sidewalks, and much of the sea wall were all destroyed.
The Beach was the focus of a major revitalization effort by the MDC and the City in the 1980s and was officially reopened in May 1992. As part of this work the pavilions were restored, the boulevard renovated, and the beach resanded. Sadly for many, amusements were dismantled or demolished, their places taken by high rise, luxurious condos.
On the weekend of July 19, 1996, Revere commemorated the centennial of the first opening of Revere Beach with a three-day celebration, and on July 26, 2004, Revere Beach was designated a National Historic Landmark.
This revitalization effort has also been reflected in the health of the beach itself. Since its designation as a National historic landmark, several policies have been put into place to help restore Revere Beach's water starting with the reinforcement of the BEACH Act that was passed by congress in 2001 seeking to improve water quality of public beaches in the United States to reduce or remove the risk of disease from pathogens. This act also put in place an online database where the results of these tests can be publicly viewed as well as a system for notifying swimmers if bacterial levels were found to be above the accepted standard of 104 CFU/100mL in a single day or an average of 35 CFU/100mL over five days.
Revere Beach undergoes routine testing for Enterococcus, a pathogen indicating bacteria responsible for illnesses as slight as sore throat to meningitis, gastroenteritis, and encephalitis. The water is tested on a weekly basis at four different sites throughout the summer, from June to August. These sites are Oak Island, Revere Beach Bathhouse (state police station), Beach Street, and Point of Pines. This data is collected by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which is regulated by Bureau of Environmental Health.
In the summer of 2006 the average concentration of enterococcus of all four points of collection was an astounding 103.9605263 CFU/100mL, which is barely under the standard of 104CFU/100mL in the state of Massachusetts. Since then, the number has gone down to a healthy 24.3CFU/100mL in 2010. Although the water does occasionally jump in concentration of bacteria from time to time the general health of the beach has greatly improved. This has also led to the birth of new small businesses and investment in the area by the city. Revere Beach Boulevard was repaved and angle parking was done away with to create larger sidewalks and better travel.
Today, the beach is in regular use and is seeing a flurry of new investment, both private and public including a $9 million state financed renovation.
Some attractions include the annual New England Sand Sculpting Festival, which has taken place at Revere Beach each July since 2004. During this festival an area of the beach is fenced off, creating a temporary art gallery for visitors. Event organizers have proclaimed that the festival is the largest sand-sculpting contest in New England. A total of $15,000 in prize money was available for the 2010 event. The annual contest has drawn visitors from greater Boston and New England with its beautiful sculptures and in general has increased the appeal of the beach as an attraction.