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A fisherman casts a net into Lake Pontchartrain at Lincoln Beach in New Orleans East, Monday April 20, 2016. The levee board is considering rehabbing the historic beach in a meeting Thursday August 4, 2016. The amusement park and beach was segregated until 1965 when it was closed down. Lincoln Beach was opened in 1939 while Jim Crow laws were still in affect in southern states, preventing blacks from attending near by Pontchartrain beach.

Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER

Lincoln Park was separate, but definitely not equal.

The beach and amusement park in the eastern New Orleans area known as Little Woods started as a 2.3-acre tract deeded to the city by Sam “The Banana Man” Zemurray in 1938 as a beach for African Americans. In 1939, the Works Progress Administration built a sand beach and beach house at the site, but it was not the equal of the whites-only Pontchartrain Beach closer to town.

Visitors had to cross railroad tracks to get to the beach and raw sewage from nearby fishing camps made the water unfit for swimming. In 1951, following public outrage over the conditions at the beach, the city and the levee board expanded it to 17 acres and built swimming pools and a new bathhouse.

The revamped site was opened in 1954 and leased to an independent company that operated rides including a Ferris wheel and roller coaster. While it still didn’t live up to Pontchartrain Beach, the entertainment was top tier. Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Josephine Baker, Ike and Tina Turner, Fats Domino and Little Richard were among the entertainers who performed at the park. With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Pontchartrain Beach was opened to everyone, and Lincoln Beach closed later that year. Efforts to reopen or revitalize the Lincoln Beach site have failed.