Pleasure piers were first built in England, during the 19th century. The earliest structures were those at Ryde, built 1813/4, Leith(Trinity Chain) 1821 and Brighton (Chain) 1823. Only the oldest of these piers still remains.
At that time the introduction of the railways for the first time permitted mass tourism to dedicated seaside resorts. However, the large tidal ranges at many such resorts meant that for much of the day, the sea was not visible from dry land. The pleasure pier was the resorts’ answer, permitting holiday makers to promenade over and alongside the sea at all times. The longest Pleasure pier in the world is at Southend-on-sea, Essex, and extends 2,158 metres (1.34 mi) into the Thames estuary.
The longest pier on the West Coast of the United States is the Oceanside Pier.
Pleasure piers often include other amusements and theatres as part of the attraction. Such a pier may be open air, closed, or partly open, partly closed.
Sometimes a pier has two decks.
Early pleasure piers were of wooden construction, with iron structures being introduced with the construction in 1855 of Margate Jetty, in Margate, England. Margate was wrecked in storms in 1978 and was never repaired.
The oldest iron pier still remaining is in Southport, England, and dates from 1860.