Today's images show the Joy Zone in Seal Beach in about 1917. The postcard image above shows the large wood rollercoaster, The Derby, which came from the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, (as did the "Scintillator Lights" which graced the end of the Seal Beach Pier). The grainy inset image shows Santa Ana's own Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (left) filming a movie at the same location. The Joy Zone was built in 1916, one year after the city was incorporated. City founder Philip A. Stanton hoped to make his town the “The Coney Island of the Pacific” and the “playground of Southern California.” Indeed, at its height, as many as 20,000 visitors came to Seal Beach each week -- Many of them arriving on the Pacific Electric's Red Cars.
Amenities at the base of the wooden pier included a bathhouse, a dance hall, concession stands, and the Jewel City Cafe. The pier itself (built in 1906) was billed as the longest south of San Francisco.
The Joy Zone sort of fell apart with the onset of the Great Depression. People stopped coming, the Derby burned down, and the whole place fell into disrepair. But by that time, Seal Beach had also developed a reputation as a haven for speakeasies, gambling and other illicit forms of entertainment -- Making the whole town into another kind of "joy zone" for years to come.