Playland was a 10-acre amusement park located next to Ocean Beach at the western edge of San Francisco. It began as a collection of amusement rides and concessions in the late 1800s. The various rides and attractions were separately owned by different concessionaires. Some of the rides came from a San Francisco amusement park located on Fulton Street known as “The Chutes,” which burned in 1911. During the next years many more rides and attractions were added.
In 1926 George and Leo Whitney assumed management of the park and in 1928 they changed the name to Whitney's at the Beach. By 1934 the midway had 14 rides, 25 concessions, and 4 restaurants. George and Leo Whitney eventually purchased the land as well as several adjacent lots for future expansion.
George Whitney who had bought out his brother prior to World War II, bought the
Sutro Baths in 1952, and continued to operate the area on his own until his death in 1958.
For a while after George Whitney's death, Playland was operated by his son, George K. Whitney, Jr. It was eventually sold to Jeremy Ets-Hokin (a millionaire developer) in 1971 and was torn down in September of 1972. Condominiums were built on the Playland property and a permanent art project commemorating Playland was installed in 1996.
Special Notes: The carousel was sold at auction in 1972, and went to Long Beach, California.
San Francisco bought the carousel and it is now located off Fourth Street downtown in Yerba Buena Gardens. Laffing Sal was the laughing automated character whose cackle echoed throughout the park. After Playland was closed, one of the original Sals was relocated to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and another Sal is located in the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. The It's-It ice cream sandwich was invented in 1928 by George Whitney, and sold only at Playland-at-the-Beach. In fact, for 40 years, Playland was the only place you could find It's-It. After the demolition of Playland in 1972, the ice cream treat was made elsewhere but was still available at the Pronto Pup stand until early 2000.
It is now sold in stores and in 15 states.