Arlington Beach and Amusement Park opened May 30, 1923, on the Potomac River in the vicinity of the Long Bridge (the old Fourteenth Street Bridge). The beach flourished until 1929 when it was bought by the Washington Airport Corporation to provide additional landing space.
In addition to a sandy beach, there were bath houses, a dance pavilion, merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, and many other amusement park features. The park also touted excellent parking facilities. Dancing was advertised as one of the chief attractions in the opening season.
Unfortunately, due to its location next to the airport, visitors to the beach were all too often witnesses to airplane accidents and fatalities. Aviation was in its early days and was a largely unregulated industry so such accidents were not uncommon.
The beach also served as a recreational site for many organizations holding annual picnics, etc. At one such event it was decided, as a “lark,” to “burn” someone at the stake. When the fire got out of hand, and the seat of the victim’s pants actually caught on fire, he was quickly untied and beat a hasty retreat to the river where he doused himself to put out the flames. In spite of this incident it was later reported in the newspaper that all had a very good time!
This was posted on J on the Arlington Public Library, Center for Local History website at: http://library.arlingtonva.us/2008/07/29/a-day-at-the-beach/