After the end of the 1939 World’s Fair, the famous amphitheater, or Aquacade as it was called, laid dormant during the World War II years due to the fact that wartime blackout laws prevented nighttime variety shows.
In 1945, Elliott Murphy, a stunt man from the Jones Beach Stadium Troupe, applied for a license to bring backnighttime amphitheater entertainment. It was approved and Elliott Murphy’s Aquashow was born.
This week’s photograph shows the access entrance road to the amphitheater being repaved and upgraded for the anticipated traffic on Horace Harding Boulevard. The Long Island Expressway wasnine years away from being built,which later downgraded Horace Harding Boulevard toa service road on this thoroughfare.
In 1955 when Murphy’s lease was up, the amphitheaterbecame George Hamid’s Aqua Circus. In 1960, the last tenant was Dick Randall’s Aquarama, which showcased Jayne Mansfield and the three Stooges. In 1961, with the announcement of another World’s Fair, his lease was cancelled and the property was returned to the Department of Parks and Recreation and updated for the 1964-65 fair.
The glory of this building was never to return. It fell into disrepair in the 1970s and ’80s. In 1996, after a lot of finger pointing and in direct opposition to the wishes of the late Robert Moses, this valuable and historic structure was demolished.
(Editor’s note: The first book in a trilogy on thehistory of Queens County, titled “The New York World’s Fairs,” is now available by mail order at a price of $14.99, plus$3 first class postage. Checks should be made payable to Icon Archives P.O. Box 10, Rockville Centre, NY 11571.)