For 41 years, until its closing in 1947, Bay Shore Park was the place Baltimoreans traveled to by open-air streetcar to beat the searing summer heat and humidity.
The 12-mile trip from downtown by No. 26 streetcar took nearly an hour as it swayed and clanged through East Baltimore and then by way of Eastern Avenue to Dundalk and Turner's Station.
Zipping across Bear Creek Bridge to Ninth and D streets at Sparrows Point, revelers then transferred to a three-car "jerkwater" which delivered them, after a 10-minute ride, to Bay Shore Park at the edge of Chesapeake Bay.
Commissioned by United Railways and designed by Otto Simonson and Theodore Wells Pietsch, the park's three distinctive casino-like structures -- confections with broad porches and verandas -- resembled those found in Cape May. Here day-trippers caught the balmy breezes and cooled off in the waters of the bay or sat on a white, sandy beach.
On opening day, Aug. 11, 1906, The Sun reported, "The buildings are commodious and handsome. They are substantially constructed nothing cheap. At night the thousands of electric lights, studded here and there with an arc light, produced a superb effect."
As the first crowds entered the family resort -- "No intoxicants" -- for the first time, they were serenaded by music from a band positioned in the dance pavilion. There, men wearing white duck pants and straw boaters waltzed and foxtrotted with women dressed in summer frocks.
"This was the era of George M. Cohan and Victor Herbert. The Saturday the park opened, Professor Giuseppe Aiala and his Royal Artillery Band stood in the dance pavilion and played such tunes as 'In My Merry Oldsmobile,' 'Chinatown My Chinatown,' 'Kiss Me Again' and 'Mary's a Grand Old Name,' said The Evening Sun.
In a 1922 advertisement, Bay Shore Park was described as a "Beautiful white temple of recreation set in the green frame of friendly trees; cooled by the vagrant north winds; courted by the great Chesapeake which, better to win your heart, puts on the white plumage of the breaking surf -- Bay Shore, heart of Baltimore's heart; renewer of youth -- the promise of summer."
That summer, Miss Lillian Cannon, "South Atlantic champion for 50 yards; fancy diving champion, holder of 15 cups and 25 medals for swimming and diving, will be the swimming instructor for women and children." On Sundays, Miss Cannon gave "swimming exhibitions."
Noted local hoteliers and restaurateurs Douglas C. Turnbull Sr. and William Crump operated the park's restaurant, which offered a shore dinner for $1.50. "With the regular dinner: All the muffins you can eat -- no extra charge. As many cups of coffee as you desire -- for the cost of the first cup," said the ad.
Amusement rides included "The Flying Horses" carousel and "The Thingamajic" roller coaster.
"Our first idea was to make it safe. We put five of the fattest men we had working on the park in one car and it never even noticed it. So it's safe," said the advertisement. Children were able to climb around a stationary street car called the "Monkeyshine Line," where they could ring its gong and pull on the controller's lever to their heart's content.
There were other rides such as aeroplane swing, sea swing, Whirladrome, Kiddie Koaster, and balloon racer. For the more sedate there was a palm reader, bowling, shooting galleries and "doll and candy games."
All the fun ended in 1947 when the park was purchased by the Bethlehem Steel Corp. for expansion.
"Contrasting with the blaring of phonograph music and the shouts of bathers and barks from concessionaires in summers past, the only sound one hears at Bay Shore now are the screeching and banging produced in the wrecking process," reported The Evening Sun.
Pub Date: 6/13/98