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Take a look back at the glory days of the Poconos

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There's nothing we like more than a good solid dose of nostalgia

Resorts in the Poconos, like Unity House in Bushkill, became popular destinations starting in the late 1930s.
Resorts in the Poconos, like Unity House in Bushkill, became popular destinations starting in the late 1930s.
Photo by Hans Knopf/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated with the most recent information.

Not too long ago, the Poconos were one the hippest destinations east of the Mississippi. What began as one of America's honeymoon (or post-honeymoon) destinations of choice, more elaborate and family-friendly resorts started opening in the 1940s and 1950s.

The first commercial ski area, Big Boulder, was established in 1946 and after not too long, the Poconos resorts were swinging pan-seasonal vacation destinations, welcoming guests of all social strata. Unity House welcomed union workers from around the Northeast until its closure in the 1990s, and Jackie Gleason was a regular at The Shawnee Inn (Lucille Ball, and Ed Sullivan, too). John F. Kennedy even made a trip to the Poconos in the early 1960s.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) members, many in swimwear, as they stand, talk, or swim from a narrow pier at the union-owned resort called 'Unity House' in the Pocono Mountains, Bushkill, Pennsylvania, summer 1938.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) members, many in swimwear, as they stand, talk, or swim from a narrow pier at the union-owned resort called 'Unity House' in the Pocono Mountains, Bushkill, Pennsylvania, summer 1938.
Photo by Hans Knopf/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Summer in the Poconos meant boating, camping, sun-bathing, and golf, and yuletide was the annual harbinger for fun-fueled winters chock full of snow-shoeing, skiing, and getting warm the old-fashioned way. But, "the Poconos ain't what it used to be." Per Katherine Wisniewski for Curbed:

Mount Airy Lodge closed in 2001. White Pines Resort suspended operations in the 1990s. Brookdale Resort is on the cusp on becoming a time share. Penn Hills Resort shuttered in 2009. Poconos Gardens Lodge was demolished. And Paradise Stream Resort's rebranding insists that the old love hotel is "a hotter, hipper, destination than ever before." The demise of old-school Poconos loves nests could be blamed on the rise of Vegas as a tourist attraction, AirBnB, and/or affordable cruise lines.When business in many of the Poconos' groovier destinations dropped off, many resorts were closed, and either abandoned or demolished to make way for suburban development.

Any mention of the Poconos now drums up images of miles-long ski-lines and indoor water parks. The Poconos are now decidedly "family-friendly."

But because there's nothing we like more than a good solid dose of nostalgia, here's a look back at the glory days of the Poconos, when dinners were formal and drenched in champagne, ping-pong was played without irony, the fire-side sing-alongs warm, and the Jacuzzis even hotter.

In 1971, these newlyweds are photographed kissing in the heart-shaped tub on honeymoon at Cove Haven resort in the Poconos.
In 1971, these newlyweds are photographed kissing in the heart-shaped tub on honeymoon at Cove Haven resort in the Poconos.
Photo by George Silk/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images