The first pier on the island was located at the Winkler Hotel, but it was destroyed in the 1944 Hurricane. The county purchased land at the north end of the island and built a new pier in 1949. The area around the pier developed as the business district known as Times Square.
For over fifty years, visitors would walk or fish on the pier or picnic at the beachside tables at the county park. They could also grab a hot dog, pizza, or ice cream at the "Breezy Freeze", or the "Tip Top", which specialized in cooking the catch of the day.
The pier was condemned and closed to the public in 1975 until it was replaced with a prestressed concrete structure. The ramp entrance, souvenir bait house, and the "T" extension at the end, with benches and shade roof, were eventually replaced with the longlasting recycled "new wood."
Meanwhile today's "Times Square" was born when the previous "drive through" at the business district roadway at the foot of the bridge was closed and resurfaced. A vibrant pedestrian plaza was added in the late 1980's with restaurants and additional shops experienced new life when store fronts opened up with additional dog friendly umbrella seating.
The walking district attracted street performers with a new energized focus on outdoor living. In addition, the old San Carlos streetscaping picked up the beat to the hub of beach life at this popular pier and Times Square setting.
Unfortunately, the Times Square area was hit hard by Ian. All of the beach front buildings were washed away and many other businesses along San Carlos Blvd were damaged.
For years, the pier and Times Square represented the heart of the island and its destruction was hard to accept.
Today, the pier is nothing but pilings but people still come at sunset to enjoy nature's show. Quite a few businesses along San Carlos have reopened. Food trucks have replaced the restaurants that were once on the beach front.
Visitors are returning to enjoy the beach and help in the rebuilding process.