Pier 66 means different things to people depending on whether they are new to Florida or have been around a few years. My Pier 66 is a tall hotel with a rotating rooftop lounge on the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale.
It was built in the 1950's and was originally owned by the Phillips Petroleum Company, the sellers of Phillips 66 gasoline. To signalize that ownership, there was a Philips 66 gas station in front of the hotel back in the fifties and sixties.
It's easy for me to remember the date of my first visit to Pier 66. It was June 6, 1966, or 6-6-66. Pier 66 had a rotating lounge on it's top floor named Top Of The Pier that was open to the public.
Spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, Port Everglades and downtown Fort Lauderdale were an outstanding feature of this slowly rotating lounge.
As I recall, the elevator took 66 seconds to rise from the ground to the lounge floor. The elevator had a glass side so you could look out at the scenery during the trip to the top.
The lounge itself rotated once every 66 minutes while you enjoyed your drinks. In my prime I could enjoy three drinks per rotation.
It was important during such periods of libation to memorize where your table was when you left it to go to the restroom. When you returned, the table would be in a different location.
The last time I visited Top of the Pier was in early 2005. The hotel was then a Hyatt and remodeled for probably the umpteenth time.
I met a friend for a drink and to enjoy the spectacular sunset as I had done dozens of times before. As the sun descended below the horizon, the lights of Port Everglades and downtown Fort Lauderdale were twinkling decorations on a golden backdrop of green palms and blue canals.
The following month I was in Fort Lauderdale and went into the hotel for my habitual trip to the Top Of The Pier. I learned that it had been closed to the public and to hotel guests. It was only available for private parties.
Another chapter in Old Florida that is sadly closed. I think if one follows the money, there were probably too many tourists and sightseers using the lounge without having a drink or a snack. Not enough of us 3 drink per rotation types to make it work economically.
Read what visitors have said about their memories of Pier 66 and Top of the Pier lounge at Fort Lauderdale Pier 66 Where Are You?