Balboa in the past

I found some interesting history and pictures on Balboa recently from a book about Orange County’s past, Vanishing Orange County by Chris Epting.  The old photos and descriptions following are from his book.

The Balboa Island car ferry

The Balboa Island car ferry, shown in 1948, operates in Newport Beach.  Joseph Beek obtained the rights in 1919 from the City of Newport Beach to provide this ferry service from Balboa Island across the Newport Harbor to the Balboa Peninsula.  The boats travel under 1,000 feet round-trip, reaching a top speed of four miles per hour.  The speed limit in the harbor is five miles per hour, and the ferry docks about every five minutes.  A full-time captain will dock the ferry at least 22,500 times every year, traveling at least 3,200 miles every year.  The business is still in the family today.

Postcard showing Balboa Island in 1957

Balboa Island is a charming and popular area of Newport Beach, California, comprised of three modified or artificial islands in Newport Harbor: Balboa Island, the largest, the smaller Little Balboa Island to the east, joined by a two-lane bridge; and the smallest, Collins Island, to the northwest of Balboa Island, joined by a one-lane bridge.  The Balboa Island community connects to the mainland by a short, two-lane bridge on the northeast of Balboa Island and a privately operated fleet of three three-car ferryboats (the famed Balboa Island Ferry) that provide access across the harbor to the Balboa Peninsula, which lies to the south.

The Balboa Fun Zone

The Balboa Fun Zone, built in 1936 by Al Anderson, was an arcade and amusement park located on the Balboa Peninsula.  Bob Speth, a former employee, bought the Ferris wheel in 1956 but sold it back in 1964.  When Jordan Wank rebuilt the entire park and reopened it in 1986, the attraction had been closed due to legal problems since 1972.  On September 30, 2006, most of the rides–the Drummer Boy, Bumper Cars, and Scary Dark Ride–were closed and removed to make room for the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.  Today, only the Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round remain as reminders of the park’s past.

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