View Full Version : Coney Island

January 17th, 2003, 09:18 PM
The Wonder Wheel at Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk.


Riding the Wonder Wheel and the view of Coney Island Cyclone.


Coney Island amusement park.


January 18th, 2003, 06:08 AM
This is what I LOVE about this forum! * You can get all kinds of info on NY. * I can remember as little as 10 years ago, I was photocopying skyscraper pictures from the late 60's to the late 70's of NY from my local library. *That was the latest that they had!

August 21st, 2003, 01:00 AM
The Ocean Beach at Coney Island. *Aug 14, 2003

Wall of the New York Aquarium




Surf Ave and W 8 st. Renovation of the subway el and aquarium pedestrian bridge.




Traffic cop


Wonder Wheel from the boardwalk


Surf & Stillwell Aves

New transit station site





Jewish Geriatric Center



Lands end

August 21st, 2003, 01:32 AM
Great, great pictures. Thanks.

It looks like they made a whole new concrete support system for the main tracks at Stillwell. I can't wait for the structure and the glass arches.

And you captured the geriatric center like I couldn't last time I tried taking pictures of it.

Taiwan? Hehe..

August 21st, 2003, 03:23 PM
A touch of proletarian Miami.

Fantastic tour, again.

August 23rd, 2003, 06:02 AM
August 23, 2003

Step Right Up, Live Human Target


Slide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2003/08/23/nyregion/20030823_FREAK_slideshow_1.html)

Aiming a ball at a target to drop a clown into a tub of water is old school at the Coney Island Boardwalk. Now people eagerly shoot the Freak.

The Freak, as signs and the barker say, is a live human target.

Coney Island has seen a lot, from real-life crime to the Painproof Rubber Girl. But even in a place where trouble and cheap spectacle are the norm, "Shoot the Freak" has been turning heads.

Up to six customers at a time can stand on the Boardwalk, a few yards from Stillwell Avenue, and aim their rifles down an alley filled with trash and concrete bits. There, one finds the Freak, darting and dodging.

He is dressed in a combination of hockey, baseball and bicycling protective gear, making him look like a creature of some post-urban nightmare. Periodically, he stands still and takes one in the chest, or the forehead. The customers are firing paint pellets, and as they hit the Freak, there's a short snapping sound and a small spray of mist. Think of it as a video game come to life.

Prices range from 5 shots for $3 to 75 shots for $20. No stuffed animals — the thrill of the pursuit is the only prize.

"It never hurts, but sometimes it stings," said Matt Behan, 23, one of four Freaks. "The worst was one time when I took about 200 shots in three minutes," he added, shaking his head. "A big spender with a good shot."
Mr. Behan is classically trained as an actor, having attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan. And though he admits to enjoying life as a Freak because of the attention, he draws few parallels between dodging paint pellets and acting in the theater.

"It's just a little hard to act when you are getting shot at a lot," Mr. Behan said. He gets one chance: when shot repeatedly, he recoils, drops to his knees and goes into death convulsions.

"Shoot the Freak" is the brainchild of Anthony Berlingieri, 40, a lifelong resident of Bensonhurst and an entrepreneur who has owned hot dog carts, been a contractor and sold muffins door to door. Mr. Berlingieri said he grew tired of the predictable fare on the Boardwalk and wanted to provide people in the city with a place to shoot paint guns.

"And shooting at a live person who runs around and talks back?" he said. "That's a lot better than shooting at a mannequin.

"Look, this is a country where there was the pet rock," Mr. Berlingieri said. "I always figure that after that, everything stands a shot."

So far, Mr. Berlingieri said, he has not had much of a Freak staffing problem. "How do they get the job? They ask. I don't do drug testing, I don't need to see a college background, and you can have a record."

Mr. Behan, who lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, had been auditioning and working as a telemarketer for a dating service, but it was not for him. So when he was walking, slightly drunk, on the Boardwalk early in the season and happened upon the game, he said, he knew this job was a better fit. "Here I am out of an office, at the beach," he said, "and I can drink on the job."

This is not to say the job switch was seamless.

"Some of the things people say to you are hard to take, like, `Take the helmet off so I can shoot you in the face,' " Mr. Behan said. "But you can't bring it home. In the beginning I took it too personally."

Jason Neufeld, 19 and another Freak, got an on-the-job surprise when his father, Barry, showed up. And shot him.

"He'd been waiting to do that since I turned 12," said Mr. Neufeld, of Bensonhurst, who hopes soon to pass the section he failed on the high school equivalency exam and then enlist in the Army.

Mr. Neufeld wasn't the only Freak to have a parent visit.

Terry Behan came all the way from Cincinnati to see Matt on his birthday. Speaking by phone, she said that "Matt has been so consumed by being the Freak that he hasn't come home to visit."

Did Ms. Behan take the opportunity to shoot her son?

"I can get on him and make him feel real bad," she said. "But I don't have to pop him one."

Ms. Behan would like Matt to stick to his auditions, as he has been. "I'm hoping for Matt that he does something besides the Freak," she said. She also said she had heard people say that Matt didn't look like a freak after he took his helmet off. "I don't know what they were expecting," she said.

The pay is little consolation. Mr. Behan said he made $150 for a day that involved dodging and weaving, sometimes from 10:30 a.m. until late at night, depending on the weather and crowds at the Boardwalk. As Mr. Neufeld said: "You don't get fat in this job, trust me."

The two Freaks struggle with how to balance making the game a challenge by moving around with letting people get the pleasure of hitting them. "Some want the hunt, others don't," Mr. Behan said.

Eric Dingman, 15, who was visiting the Boardwalk from Suffern, N.Y., with his father, Ron, was glad Mr. Behan stayed relatively still. "I got him in the face twice," he said.

Kevin Quinn, 40, was there with his son, Shawn, 11, from Lake George, N.Y. "It's just very realistic," Mr. Quinn said. But when Naomi Polito, 29, was asked what she would do if Shawn grew up to be the Freak, she shook her head. "I'm only his stepmother," she said, "but if he did that he'd still see my size 7 1/2 shoe."

And as Chris Sabbagh, an 8-year-old from Staten Island, took shots at Mr. Behan, his mother, Karen, said she would abstain. "Because I might like it," she said.

Nearby, Willie Hickson, 43, of Queens, took it all in before storming off. "Kids need to learn better things," he said. "They need some educational games here. And they wonder why we had the blackout."

Mr. Berlingieri is unapologetic, he said while building an extension of his product: a "Shoot the Freak" at the Feast of Santa Rosalia Society street festival being held on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst. And more ideas are swirling in his head.

"You know that machine that shoots tennis balls?" he asked. "I might have a Freak running around and you'll be able to shoot him with tennis balls. My trademark is going to be live human targets."

And in any live human target games to come, Mr. Berlingieri will always call the target the Freak. "That's because there are always freaks walking around," he said. "Freaks are forever."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

(Edited by Christian Wieland at 8:12 am on Aug. 23, 2003)

August 23rd, 2003, 06:23 AM

August 23rd, 2003, 08:51 AM
That picture is worthy of MOMA.

Elmo - the artful dodger?

August 23rd, 2003, 12:24 PM
I think I saw the Freak. Kind of scary.

TLOZ Link5
August 23rd, 2003, 06:20 PM
Hey, is that Taiwanese palm tree a sprinkler?

August 23rd, 2003, 08:01 PM
It's not really Taiwanese, I think it's a joke regarding T101....

It's a shower.

April 18th, 2005, 06:24 PM
In Coney Island's Future, Looking to Past Glory

By JOSEPH BERGER (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=JOSEPH BERGER&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=JOSEPH BERGER&inline=nyt-per)
Published: April 18, 2005


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/f.gifor decades, talk about a revival of Coney Island was shrugged off by the area's veterans as a distortion in a fun house mirror. Such talk was about a Coney Island of the Mind that did not match the reality of a shrunken and forlorn stretch of boardwalk concession stands and down-at-the-heels amusement rides.
But despite a long history of shattered dreams, there are signs that perhaps this time a rebirth is in the offing. Not only is a new stadium for the minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones drawing full houses, but the vacant lots that were the legacy of the arson-plagued 1970's are being snapped up at double the prices of five years ago.

One national mall developer, Thor Equities, is buying many of the hot-dog stands and honky-tonk arcades between the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue so it can build a colossal indoor complex that, rumor has it, will include a water park.

Landowners who held on to their properties for decades waiting for casino gambling or another white knight are finding Thor's prices irresistible, said Charles Denson, the author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found."

"It's really happening," he said. "For someone like me who studies Coney Island, this is it."

More than 10 million people streamed to the 2.7 mile-beach last summer - five times as many as in 1998, by Department of Parks and Recreation estimates - as the newest immigrants and European tourists discovered the bracing Atlantic surf and the gaudy anarchy of the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and Nathan's Famous.

This year, beachgoers will arrive through a new solar-paneled Stillwell Avenue terminal for the D, F and Q trains that replaced one rank with urine. And even the restored Parachute Jump, a 262-foot Brooklyn icon, will soon be newly illuminated, though no entrepreneur willing to pay the sky-high insurance premiums for operating an actual ride has emerged.

To manage the growth, the Bloomberg administration will soon release a blueprint for turning Coney Island into a year-round pleasure site that would include shops and apartments facing the sea.

But some of these trends worry ride operators and concessionaires, who fear that sanitized chain restaurants will replace the more raucous outdoor joints where hot dogs are dished out by a crusty character, not a teenager trained to mouth formulaic pleasantries. They are concerned that the place will lose the flamboyant look of hand-painted signs with lurid block lettering advertising fried clams, cold beer and hot knishes.

"People come to this beach because they can't afford a vacation," said the manager of Gyro Corner, who gave his name as Joey Clams. "They bring their own food. They don't need expensive restaurants."

Dick D. Zigun, a tattooed impresario who runs what he says is America's last 10-act sideshow of sword swallowers, fire-eaters and snake charmers, says that a mall might prompt the city to abandon Coney Island's amusement zoning altogether and replace carnivals with condos. Coney Island would get too clean, upscale and homogenous.

He said he did not entirely believe assurances by the Coney Island Development Corporation, which is drawing up the renewal blueprint, that it will retain the old flavor. Not a single amusement operator is on its board, he noted.

"They say, 'Don't worry,' but everyone's worried," said Mr. Zigun, who is treated as Coney Island's unofficial mayor. "Coney Island has a rich history just like Times Square, and to lose that would be a shame."

Joshua Sirefman, president of the development corporation, said, "We've worked very hard to develop a strategy that balances new growth while respecting the core of what makes Coney Island Coney Island." He declined to provide specifics about what might be included in the plan.

December 31st, 2005, 02:13 AM

Enj:) y!!!!

www.xanga.com/Brooklyn_Dadra (http://www.xanga.com/Brooklyn_Dadra)

www.myspace.com/stevenjanice (http://www.myspace.com/stevenjanice)

December 31st, 2005, 03:13 AM
Coney Island to my site
http://perrin.olivier.free.fr/new_york_2005/Coney%20Island%20(Brooklyn)/index.html (http://perrin.olivier.free.fr/new_york_2005/Coney%20Island%20%28Brooklyn%29/index.html)

Aerial View
http://img429.imageshack.us/img429/3719/coneyisland4en.th.jpg (http://perrin.olivier.free.fr/webcam/nyc%20local%20live/slides/coney%20island.html)

Witch a ZippyTheChimp Photo' :
http://img440.imageshack.us/img440/4725/rub070nq.th.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/%5BURL=http://img440.imageshack.us/my.php?image=rub070nq.jpg%5D%5BIMG%5Dhttp://img440.imageshack.us/img440/4725/rub070nq.th.jpg%5B/IMG%5D%5B/URL%5D)

January 31st, 2006, 06:22 PM

Let's go to Coney Island!!!
Fond Coney Island memories!!!

Enj:) y!!!!

www.xanga.com/Brooklyn_Dadra (http://www.xanga.com/Brooklyn_Dadra)

www.myspace.com/stevenjanice (http://www.myspace.com/stevenjanice)

January 31st, 2006, 06:38 PM

You transformed my photo into a vintage postcard. :)

Nice gallery.

January 31st, 2006, 07:30 PM
Amazing images. I love the one you titled "Coexistence". A perfect name ! It really made me smile.

February 1st, 2006, 10:30 AM

You transformed my photo into a vintage postcard. :)

Nice gallery.

thank you your photographs are always also beautiful and they inspire to me

February 1st, 2006, 10:32 AM

superb animation

February 1st, 2006, 05:32 PM
That's from the film 'The Warriors' :D

I went to Coney on my visit to NY in April 2005, and all four of us fell in love with the place. It's got such an amazing history, I wish they would restore it to it's former glory.

The Cyclone is amazing!! :D

February 2nd, 2006, 12:40 AM
in 2005, on coney, publicity on the exit of the video plays ' The Warriors'
http://img511.imageshack.us/img511/2346/coneyisland402wa.th.jpg (http://perrin.olivier.free.fr/new_york_2005/Coney%20Island%20%28Brooklyn%29/slides/Coney%20Island%20%2840%29.html)

May 23rd, 2006, 04:36 PM
Coney ready for the summer

http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/5093/coney226qn.th.jpg (http://img148.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coney226qn.jpg)

http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/243/coney234ki.th.jpg (http://img521.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coney234ki.jpg)

May 23rd, 2006, 11:48 PM
Coney ready for the summer

http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/5093/coney226qn.th.jpg (http://img148.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coney226qn.jpg)

http://img521.imageshack.us/img521/243/coney234ki.th.jpg (http://img521.imageshack.us/my.php?image=coney234ki.jpg)

June 17th, 2007, 11:54 PM
A day in Coney Island - see all 18 pictures on Flickr

Slideshow on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/sets/72157600386003591/show/)

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1005/562939013_de3ec9adab_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/sets/72157600386003591/show/)

August 6th, 2007, 02:25 PM
Has anyone here had the "thrill" of riding the "Parachute Jump?" Not those tame and generic ones at other amusement parks, but the real deal!
I rode it twice, and thought I was going to fall out of the seat. There were no harnesses, or straps, just a bar that you held onto. Up you went, and at the top, you stopped. 5-10 seconds later, you dropped like a stone, and at the bottom you hit some springs that shot you back up about 25 feet, and boing, boing, boing!:eek::eek::eek::D
Also, there were a bunch of roller coasters there. The Cyclone, tornado, Thunderbolt, and the Bobsled. Also, in Steeplechase Park, separate admission price, there was the horse race that made you feel like you were gonna fall off. And, the clown with the cattle prod for the men and the air gun for the girls in skirts. Yes, girls wore skirts, way back then.:)

September 10th, 2007, 06:06 AM
Let's hope this is not true.

Astroland closes. Maybe for the last time.


September 13th, 2007, 02:29 PM
Brianac unfortunately it seems to be.

September 15th, 2007, 05:01 AM
Glad to see BBC TV has taken an interest in the future of Coney Island.
They ran a short feature on their Breakfast News Show this morning.

I have not been able to find a video link.

October 25th, 2007, 05:01 AM
New York
Brooklyn: One More Season for Astroland


Published: October 25, 2007
The venerable Astroland amusement park in Coney Island will remain open for one more season under a deal announced yesterday with the developer behind the neighborhood’s planned $2 billion makeover. The agreement came after it appeared that the park’s classic rides had gone dark for the last time on Sept. 9. But weeks of talks between the developer, Thor Equities, and the family that owns Astroland, the Alberts, produced a short-term lease. The terms were not made public yesterday. The Alberts, who opened Astroland in 1962, sold the 3.1-acre property off the Boardwalk to Thor last year as part of the developer’s effort to turn 10 acres of Coney Island into a year-round tourist attraction.

April 2nd, 2008, 05:10 AM
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The former Childs Restaurant building at West 21st Street and the Boardwalk in Coney Island dates from the 1920s. It was designated a city landmark in 2003.A Board

Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

April 2nd, 2008, 05:36 AM
In Coney Island, One of the Oldest Sharks in Captivity Dies

By SEWELL CHAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/sewell_chan/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: April 2, 2008

Bertha, a sand tiger shark who had lived at the New York Aquarium since the 1960s and was believed to be one of the oldest sharks in any aquarium in the world, died on Saturday.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/02/nyregion/02shark_650.jpgJ. L. Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society, via Associated Press
Bertha, a sand tiger shark, at the New York Aquarium last year.

In announcing Bertha’s death, the Wildlife Conservation Society (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/w/wildlife_conservation_society/index.html?inline=nyt-org), which oversees the aquarium, said on Tuesday that she was believed to be at least 43 years old.

“There was a lot of sadness,” said Hans Walters, a marine biologist who is the supervisor of sharks and the sea cliffs exhibit at the aquarium in Coney Island. “It was a rough decision to have to lose this animal.”

Mr. Walters explained that as a last resort, the aquarium had euthanized Bertha. “She had been in declining health over the past month or so and we had started a series of treatments for her,” he said in a phone interview.

“She seemed to rally a couple of weeks ago and was doing really well, but at the end of this past week, she showed another decline. We ended up restarting treatments again. When we realized they didn’t have any effect, we knew that it was time.”

The shark was put down around 4 p.m. on Saturday. A necropsy was performed on Sunday to determine the cause of the shark’s health problems; the results are pending.

Bertha lived with five other sand tiger sharks, two nurse sharks and a white tip reef shark in a round, 90,000-gallon tank. She was about 8 ½ feet long and weighed just under 250 pounds. She had no offspring; breeding sharks in captivity is difficult.

Bertha arrived in Brooklyn no later than 1965 — after she was captured by commercial fishermen off the East Coast and turned over to the aquarium — but the precise date is uncertain, Mr. Walters said. “We have hard-copy records of all our animals,” he explained. “It’s an old aquarium. Things have gotten misplaced and lost and gotten wet.”

A written record suggests that Bertha had been bitten by other sharks in 1974. The bite marks are a sign of mating activity, and sharks usually reach sexual maturity after age 6 or 7, which would be consistent with Bertha having been born in 1965. However, Mr. Walters said, a retired employee of the aquarium believes that the shark actually arrived as early as 1963.

No matter which year, Bertha was not only the largest of the aquarium’s dozen large sharks, but also one of the oldest sharks in any aquarium in the world, said Mr. Walters, who has worked with the sharks since 1992 and has conducted research on the care of sharks and on their migration patterns.

Surprisingly, it is hard to say how Bertha’s life span compared with that of other sharks from the same species. “Nobody knows,” Mr. Walters said.

“You’d have to see it come out of the womb and follow as long as it lived. You’d be probably as surprised about how much is not known about sharks than about how much is known.”

The sand tiger shark is a large coastal creature that dwells in subtropical and temperate regions. The sand tiger sharks are highly migratory, traveling as far south as the Carolinas and Florida during the cooler months. The shark eats small schooling fish and is not known to be aggressive toward humans (unlike the great white, the basis of the book and movie “Jaws”).

Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

April 17th, 2008, 02:39 PM
Meet me down at Coney Island 1930 (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eXBpJS7q-0w)

And again in 1940 (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=rSF8I2tDdy0&feature=related)

April 20th, 2008, 04:56 AM
New York Observed

The Fire, and the Mystery

Published: April 20, 2008

IT was the spring of 1996. The three of us had spent a pleasant afternoon on the Brighton Beach Boardwalk at the famed Russian restaurant Tatiana: my grandmother, she was alive then; my Aunt Deena, we were on tentative speaking terms that year before her death; and I, the only granddaughter.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/20/nyregion/fire650.jpgMaxine Hicks for The New York Times
After much searching, the author found the graves of her great-aunt and great-uncle, whose house in Coney Island had burned many years earlier.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/20/nyregion/thecity/fire02450.jpgThe New York Times, 1955
The Coney Island house after the fire.

We drank hot coffee with vanilla ice cream in clear glass mugs. I was 25,
Deena 51 and Gramma somewhere past 90. But then Deena blurted out something that stopped me in midswallow. “You had another aunt, you know, who lived right around here,” she said. I took notes on a napkin: 1950s. Fire. Mermaid Avenue. Dead.

No one remembered the last name of Esther, who was in fact my great-aunt. They couldn’t remember her husband’s last name or what he did for a living.
Or perhaps they didn’t want to.

Estrangement runs in my family. In California in 1980, my father and Deena, who was his sister, got into a fight about whether to fill up a car with gas en route to a restaurant in Beverly Hills, where Deena lived at the time. They didn’t speak for eight years, until their Uncle Manny’s funeral on Staten Island.

When Deena moved back to Brooklyn in the mid-1990s, they tolerated each other. That made it feasible for me to enjoy my Brighton Beach lunch with the women of the Silver family — and gave birth to my quest to learn more about Esther, and Esther’s daughter, who, according to Deena, had been institutionalized on Staten Island.

My first stop was at Grand Army Plaza, at the Brooklyn Central Library, where a librarian combed the borough records for traces of my relatives. Finally, she found a few references, one of them a front-page article in The New York Times dated Sept. 22, 1955: “Coney Island Blaze Kills 5; Arson Seen.”

My heart pounding, I threaded the microfilm into the machine. An image of the empty shell of Esther’s home, at 1423 Mermaid Avenue, appeared on Page 33. It looked as if it had been bombed. The bodies “were too badly burned for positive identification,” the article reported, but there, in a tentative list of victims, I met my lost relatives: Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Middleman, 55 and 52.

Yet there was no mention of the daughter. The Middlemans didn’t appear in the photo albums that lined my parents’ yellow living room in Flushing. Nor were they among the pictures from my father’s bar mitzvah in 1952 at the Rambam Auditorium on Kings Highway, though they lived less than five miles away.

I pushed on. I recruited my father’s cousin Lucille, a professional genealogist, who told me that Esther “wasn’t quite right.” Lucille never found Esther’s name in the New York City Brides Record Index, one of the many municipal archives available, but she showed me how to search military and cemetery records. And she remembered that Esther’s mother couldn’t straighten her pinkie finger, “because of something Esther did — with a knife.”

Once I had my great-aunt’s name, I got a copy of the death certificate and learned that she and her husband, who had served in the Army, were buried in the Long Island National Cemetery at Farmingdale.

The tombstones — their name was spelled Mittleman on them — matched the army of white slabs planted in the sea of just-mowed lawn. Most stones displayed a cross; the Mittlemans’ bore Stars of David. Next to Benjamin’s grave, there was an expanse of green without a gravestone, and no sign of a daughter.

Three days after my visit to Farmingdale, I called my dad in his Midtown office. He was not fond of my forays into this part of family history, so I didn’t tell him I’d searched dusty city records for all possible spellings of Mittleman. And I didn’t tell him I had been to the cemetery.

But soon I broached the subject of Esther, and after some small talk he said: “You know who she looked like? That woman in the photo from the Dust Bowl.”

THAT famous image of a weary sharecropper, Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother,” flashed through my mind. The despair in the woman’s face was easier to conjure than the details of the photograph. The woman in the picture had seven children. Esther had one, or at least one that Deena knew about.

“She wasn’t a member of the family in any manner of speaking, hon,” Dad said.

I stopped pressing him about Esther and, after some more small talk, he remembered the daughter’s name. “Rachel.”

“How old was she?” I asked.


In the 1950s, Willowbrook was the only state school on Staten Island for children with mental retardation. But my hope of learning more about Rachel was soon dampened by word from the borough’s Developmental Disabilities Services Office. “We’ve had fires and floods,” a worker told me after I requested Rachel’s records. And anyway, she said, the information is protected by law.

I had another idea. At Willowbrook, patients who died without next of kin were often buried in Potter’s Field on Hart Island in Long Island Sound. Because of her apparent illness and because I had never heard of her, I assumed that Rachel was dead. So Potter’s Field was my next stop.

The news was not good there, either. “Burial records are not indexed,” announced an e-mail message from the Municipal Archives. “The burial place will be listed on the death certificate.”

But without Rachel’s age or Social Security number, I could not find her death certificate at the Health Department unless I pored over the death indexes myself. Given the time and expense of that task, I chose not to pursue it right away.

I also remembered back to a couple of years ago — a decade after I first learned about Esther — when Cousin Lucille read my research notes and paused at a sentence about Rachel Mittleman, “who lived and died in an institution.” Lucille, who was 74, was close to death at that point, but on that December afternoon, her eyes sparkled. “How do you know Rachel’s not alive?” she asked.

When I heard that, my goal grew more distant. But I still haven’t given up; I’m just taking a break. Call it gathering strength for the next step.

Laura Silver is a contributor to “Jews of Brooklyn,” published by Brandeis University Press.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

May 29th, 2008, 06:06 AM
Coney Island's Last Summer, Take Two!

Beach season starts with a bang in relentlessly uncertain amusement district

by Chris Shott (http://www.observer.com/node/36088) | May 27, 2008

This article was published in the June 2, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

http://www.observer.com/files/imagecache/article/files/tales.jpg Chris Shott
The late Rubin Jacobs opened Ruby’s Bar & Grill on the Coney Island boardwalk in 1985.

The jukebox at Ruby’s Bar & Grill was cranking out its usual eclectic mix of beachy classics—Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In the Night,” Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It on the Rain”—this past Saturday when proprietor Michael Sarrel abruptly pulled the plug.

“Finish your drinks!” he told patrons of the venerable Coney Island venue at 5:22 p.m.

The old boardwalk bar was closing early, long before last call or even sunset, due to an apparent “safety hazard,” he said.

As the boozy crowd abandoned their beverages and shuffled out, a slew of firefighters, police and paramedics huddled in the back amid the eerie glow of a bright Coors Light sign near the men’s restroom.

This reporter, too, took one last swig and then headed over to an officer in shorts and a blue polo shirt marked “Community Relations,” who bluntly summed up the situation: “One guy was taking a leak, the floor partially collapsed, and he fell 10 feet.”

He landed in the bar’s dank basement, itself a once-hopping nightspot several decades ago, where even today, amid “rats ... bigger than dogs,” as veteran Ruby’s bartender Frank Gluska once told New York magazine, “you feel like spirits are still there drinking.”

Not that the fallen patron probably appreciated the history lesson. When he finally emerged from the gaping hole in the floor—which firefighters estimated at roughly 6 by 6 feet—he was, in the words of one Ruby’s employee, “literally covered in shit.”

When the floor gave way, apparently, so did the plumbing.

Yet the soiled and presumably shocked patron still managed to climb a ladder to safety, witnesses said, though he was later carried off on a stretcher and loaded into a waiting ambulance.

Stranger things have happened at Ruby’s over the years. In 2005, for instance, a small Cessna plane crashed into the sand outside. One of the regulars was said to have heroically leaped from his bar stool, leaving his beverage behind while he rushed out to help pull victims from the wreckage.

To Ruby’s die-hard devotees, Saturday’s freak bathroom accident perhaps seemed even more ominous.

Neighboring boardwalk merchant Dianna Carlin of the adjacent Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique, for one, was worried that the incident might give Ruby’s landlord, developer Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities, enough of an excuse to finally demolish the old brick building, much like he bulldozed the batting cages and go-cart track behind the bar last year.

It takes only one bad building inspection to bring down a Coney Island institution, as locals duly learned from former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani back in 2000, when he razed the run-down Thunderbolt roller coaster in the middle of the night during construction of the nearby minor league baseball stadium, KeySpan Park.

While clouds of doom have long hovered over the lingering relics of Coney Island’s ever-shrinking amusement district, losing Ruby’s would be “the loudest death knell,” said filmmaker J. L. Aronson, who’s currently shooting a documentary about the decaying seaside destination entitled Last Summer at Coney Island, a project he began, inronically, prior to last summer.

Given 2007’s PR debacle over the scrapped batting cages and go-carts, Mr. Aronson doubted that the developer would be so quick with the wrecking ball this time. “Coney Island would be soulless without Ruby’s,” he said.

More than a mere watering hole, Ruby’s is a neighborhood institution and makeshift museum, its blue walls covered with old photos of Coney Island’s glory days. Somewhere in the middle hangs a Robert Leach painting of the bar’s legendary original proprietor, Rubin “Ruby” Jacobs, sporting his trademark Toronto Blue Jays cap.

A Coney Island native and noted beachcomber, whose name now adorns a nearby street sign, Mr. Jacobs famously went from hawking candy bars on the boardwalk to operating four bathhouses, before opening his eponymous bar in 1985.

Mr. Jacobs died in 2000 at age 77. But his legacy lives on. His family still runs the joint. Daughters Cindy Jacobs-Allman and Melody Sarrel hold the liquor license. His son-in-law, Michael Sarrel, manages. His grandsons, Matt and Steve, tend bar. The future of the family business, however, remains as cloudy as a Mermaid Day hangover.

Their landlord, Mr. Sitt, who acquired the Ruby’s building in 2006 alongside nearly 80 percent of the surrounding amusement district, has been anxiously awaiting zoning changes in order to redevelop the whole area into a glimmering Las Vegas-style resort, complete with new hotels and restaurants.

And waiting. And waiting.

His controversial plan drew a stern rebuke this past November from city officials, who questioned whether a veteran shopping mall developer had the necessary experience to oversee such a storied amusement park; in recent months, though, officials from both sides have been working on a compromise.

Mr. Sitt had reportedly offered Ruby’s a new space within his proposed development, though the iconic bar’s standard-bearer, Mr. Sarrel, has seemed rather nonplussed by the idea of bringing a breezy, open-air bar indoors for year-round service.

In the meantime, Saturday’s bizarre incident seemed an apt metaphor for the state of Coney Island at present: With a viable plan for revitalization still stuck in committee, what’s left of the ancient seaside attractions continues to rot—and yet somehow clings to life.

Sure enough, on Sunday afternoon, one day after the bizarre bathroom collapse, Ruby’s reopened for business, its venerable jukebox blaring Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” as faithful patrons sipped $6 plastic cups of the house brew, Ruby’s Amber—albeit without adequate facilities to relieve themselves afterward.

A makeshift barricade of stacked tables and chairs blocked passage to the ill-fated restroom, now under repair. When a group of customers whined about the lack of toilets, the good-humored proprietor, Mr. Sarrel, simply replied, “What, you wanna go through the floor?


© 2008 Observer Media Group

June 1st, 2008, 05:40 AM

A Traveling Carnival Drops in on a Relative

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/05/30/nyregion/coney-600.jpg Michael Nagle for The New York Times
A traveling carnival has temporarily brought life back to a stretch of Stillwell Avenue on Coney Island, if in mildly incongruous fashion.

By JAKE MOONEY (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/jake_mooney/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: June 1, 2008

THE Tornado roller coaster, precursor and rival to the world-famous Cyclone, stood on the east side of Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island from 1926 until 1977, when it perished in a fire. More recently, that block, between Bowery Street and the Boardwalk, was home to a go-cart track and a cluster of batting cages. Then last spring, in preparation for a planned revitalization that has yet to arrive, the land’s owner, Thor Equities, cleared it of everything but rocks and dirt, and it sat empty, all summer long.

But for the past week and maybe for the next, a small slice of the land is the domain of Sparky Tinney, a 47-year-old Texan with a horseshoe-shaped mustache, wavy graying hair and a tattoo on his sun-browned forearm. Mr. Tinney (whose given name is not Sparky, though that is what he prefers) runs a carnival basketball game, greeting pretty girls who walk past and goading their boyfriends to take a shot at an oddly shaped hoop and win a stuffed animal.

He is there as part of a traveling carnival that has, at least temporarily, brought life back to this stretch of Stillwell, if in mildly incongruous fashion: The Tornado is long gone, replaced by humbler rides like the Ring of Fire and the Super Slide that might look more at home at a rural county fair than in the shadow of the Wonder Wheel. Still, even skeptics agree the newcomers are better than last year’s dust.

Mr. Tinney, meanwhile, has been soaking in his first visit to New York. It is not as dirty or dangerous as television had led him to believe, he said on Wednesday — though he had so far only seen Brooklyn, where he had, first thing, ordered a hot dog at Nathan’s. His Texas drawl, he said, had gotten plenty of remarks.

“I don’t know why — everybody else has an accent,” he added. “I’ve heard more accents since I’ve been here than I’ve heard all over the United States. Kid you not.”

Mr. Tinney is on the road nine months a year, back and forth across the country, sleeping on site in movable rooms that are small, but big enough. He gets back to Texas for holidays, to see his two sons and two grandchildren, but mostly it is towns and cities where the carnival springs up, overnight, on patches of dirt like the one on Stillwell Avenue.

New York had been especially nice, Mr. Tinney confided, because he had met a Brooklyn woman with whom things seemed to be going well. Minutes later, as he tried out his pitch on a shy passing teenager — “Come on, Lucky, win the pretty girl a prize” — his new friend strolled up, a blond woman all in black with bronze flip-flops, a cigarette in one hand and a soda cup in the other.

Her name was Patricia Twohie — “41, forever 27” — and she said she had once ridden the Cyclone for 27 hours straight. She met Mr. Tinney through the guys at the pizza truck next door, and the timing was right: “I just lost 172 pounds — my ex-boyfriend.”

Her plan now was to stick with Mr. Tinney at least through his next stop. The carnival, she said, seems like taking Coney Island on the road, and if any place feels like home, it is Coney Island. “As for this Disneyland (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/d/disneyland/index.html?inline=nyt-org), Disney World, Mickey Mouse, you know what?” she said. “You want that, go there. Nothing can ever beat Coney Island.”

Her friend Stuart Zager, who stood nearby, had been spending time in the neighborhood for 50 of his 60 years. “Me and my father did all the upholstery here,” he said. “Every ride that had upholstery, we did it. And then it all closed.”

Now, on land near the site of Stauch’s Baths, demolished in 1992, there is a petting zoo, up for the summer from South Carolina, complete with a camel, a zebra and a kangaroo.

Mr. Tinney, watching the crowd go by, wondered at his good fortune. For years, he had been saying bad things about Northerners. “Who would have thought that I’d come here and hook up with one?” he mused.

Two couples walked by, and he eyed the women. “What did you do,” he shouted to one of their dates, “steal them from the supermodel club?”
“Didn’t need to,” the guy shot back, grinning.

“Oh, come on,” Mr. Tinney grinned back. “You ain’t all that. Look at those ears.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 7th, 2008, 05:39 PM
So I just got back from Coney Island. Yuck, total ghetto worse than ever. Everything so filthy looking, garbage strewn lots, the boardwalk peeling up in places.
I like gritty, but this was more like gross.

The Benniest
June 7th, 2008, 05:42 PM
That's sad, :(, especially being at Coney Island of all places.

So I'm guessing you didn't take pictures of this "garbage," 'eh? :o

June 20th, 2008, 01:47 PM
From: The Brooklyn Paper


Coney’s re-zonie baloney: Foes find common ground over city’s land grab plan

By Mike McLaughlin
The Brooklyn Paper

The fight for the soul of Coney Island begins for real next week when supporters of independent amusement operators and the neighborhood’s private developers battle a city plan to buy up land and create a new and expanded amusement area that the mayor believes will save the faded “People’s Playground.”

The city plan would transform Coney Island’s amusement core — bounded by the Boardwalk, Keyspan Park, the Cyclone roller coaster and Surf Avenue — into a year-round tourist destination with a new city-owned theme park, privately developed hotels and a multitude of entertainment attractions like movie theaters, arcades and an enclosed water park.
And adjacent to the amusement area, the city plans 4,000 to 5,000 new apartments.

It’ll enter the first phase of public debate on Tuesday with a hearing at Lincoln HS.

The plan involves a lot of heavy lifting for city officials who will have to:

• Buy land from resistant private owners, notably Joe Sitt of Thor Equities, a critic of the city’s plan to build nine acres of rides around existing attractions like the landmark Cyclone roller coaster and Deno’s Wonder Wheel.

• Win over critics, like former ally and Sideshow operator Dick Zigun, who have trashed the notion of a glitzy area of towering hotels and so-called “entertainment retail” outlets.

• Find hundreds of millions of dollars for its sprawling vision of a Vegas-style, 24-7 attraction on the Atlantic as government budgets are declining and the economy is in crisis.

Thor Equities has tempered its criticism since the mayor abandoned his original Coney Island proposal from November which called for the city obtaining 15 acres from area landowners instead of the current nine, but is still far from mollified.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Thor.
The same revision the made Sitt “optimistic,” also enlarged the adjacent section of privately run entertainment retail — a change that turned Zigun, the founder of the Coney Island USA sideshow, from a supporter to a foe.

“The city worked for four years building consensus with a plan that had something for everybody,” he said, calling the new plan “a capitulation to Joe Sitt that won’t wash.”

Zigun will, no doubt, be front and center at Tuesday’s hearing, where anyone can speak.

The public scoping meeting for Coney Island’s rezoning will begin at 6 pm on June 24 at Lincoln HS (2800 Ocean Pkwy., near West Avenue). Call (212) 312-4233 for info.

June 22nd, 2008, 06:26 AM
Rite of Summer Turns a Little Serious

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/22/nyregion/22mermaid.xlarge1.jpg Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times
Kae Burke was one of the record number of marchers who celebrated the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island on Saturday. More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/nyregion/20080622MERMAID_index.html)

Published: June 22, 2008

The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island on Saturday had its usual array of sequined mermaid tails, long trains of fish netting, tiny clamshell bikinis and strategically placed plastic swordfish. But this year’s celebration also included a large number of performers with a cause.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/22/nyregion/20080622MERMAID-B.JPGSlide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/nyregion/20080622MERMAID_index.html)Politics Meets the Mermaid Day Parade (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/06/22/nyregion/20080622MERMAID_index.html)

“This is what your view of Coney Island is going to look like,” shouted a man who was dressed in black spandex and carrying a handful of fake dollar bills as he pointed at cardboard boxes painted gray and made to look like high-rise buildings. Then a performance artist known as the Reverend Billy and his backup group, the Church of Stop Shopping, burst into a gospel song decrying development.

Kate Bartoldus, development director for Coney Island U.S.A., a nonprofit group that runs the Coney Island Sideshow School and the Coney Island Museum and which organizes the parade, said preservation had become a theme among parade participants who fear that the quirky character of their seaside neighborhood will be ruined by developers who are planning large residential and commercial projects.

“We’ve certainly seen it before, but there does seem to be more of that this year,” said Ms. Bartoldus, 30. “It hasn’t been as urgent as it is now. The political stuff makes us realize how precious it is.”

More people registered to march than in past parades, but the crowd on the sidelines was not as large as the one last year, when the parade celebrated its 25th anniversary, Ms. Bartoldus said. But what it lacked in numbers, it more than made up in exhibitionism.

This year’s King Neptune and Queen Mermaid, William Talen, the Reverend Billy’s real name, and his wife, Savitri Durkee, embodied the spirit of the parade.

“They want to turn Coney Island into a retail zone,” said Ms. Durkee, 36, who was slathered in silver body paint and had fake plants entwined in her hair. “We don’t want Coney Island to look like Houston or L.A. or just anyplace.” She said she plans to stage a four-day hunger strike this week inside a Coney Island store to draw attention to the proposed development.

This year’s sea creature participants included the Global Warming (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) Mermaids, who shouted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, this boiling water’s got to go!” There was also a pirate on a Segway, a computer technician named Jonathan Gleich, 49, who said he saves gas by commuting on the two-wheeled vehicle that he drove through the parade, a fake parrot perched on the handlebars.

Political activism is a relatively new element in the parade, which is timed to mark the start of summer, organizers said.

The parade’s M.C., who would only identify himself as Chris T., said, “Does it seem like there are more hippies this year?”

Even participants who embraced the more flashy side of the event, like the three Pontani Sisters — burlesque dancers who led the march — said this year was about celebrating and defending the parade tradition.

“You have to cherish every minute,” said Angie Pontani, 28, who was this year’s Miss Cyclone, as she wiggled down Surf Avenue in her skintight mermaid tail. “It’s very special because who knows what will happen next year.”

Some said the activist bent of this year’s Mermaid Parade had nothing to do with the true spirit of the place.

“They know nothing about Coney Island; they have to live the life,” said a man who called himself Rabbi Abraham Abraham. He said he was a member of the Ice Breakers, a group that swims in the ocean during winter and has performed acrobatics and feats of strength in the parade for 24 years.

He refused to divulge his age, except to claim that he was “the oldest senior citizen in Coney Island that’s still active.”

No matter what changes development may bring to the neighborhood, he said he believed the parade would endure. “It’s a fun parade, and I do believe all things are going to come together for the good,” he said.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 24th, 2008, 07:03 AM
...for those interested in a more expanded coverage (than ran in the times) of this last parade of its kind, please visit: www.redlinski.net/mermaids

June 24th, 2008, 11:24 AM
Thank you for that link. The photos are some of the best I've ever seen. Simply amazing.

The Benniest
June 24th, 2008, 02:38 PM
I agree. ^^^ Those are some of the best Mermaid Parade pictures I've ever seen.


The Benniest
June 26th, 2008, 02:58 PM
There are Coney Island V3.1 renderings on the Curbed site:

Watercolor edition. :cool:

http://curbed.com/archives/2008/06/26/coney_island_v31_renderings_watercolor_edition.php ?o=0

June 27th, 2008, 11:32 PM
Those aren't renderingss. Those are sketches. All I see is sidewalks and glass buildings. Nice of them to toss in a Freak Show and the old Steeplechase Face. Yeah, that's all it takes to make it Coney Island.

Misguided, misinformed, and a rather malignant development option for the premier name in amusement parks. It's akin to making Times Square and 42nd Street residential centers. Sure people will live there, but, once they get "there", "there" ceases to exist.

July 2nd, 2008, 05:26 PM
i've always tried to make myself go to coney island.......... but sadly i never can =\

nothing there seems attractive to me. i hope it does get a makeover soon

August 21st, 2008, 06:44 PM
am New York

Astroland in 'holding pattern'


Astroland’s co-owner says she won’t put the storied Coney Island amusement park’s rides up for sale just yet, despite issuing an ultimatum that she would do so if she was not offered a lease for 2009 by Friday.

“I’m just kind of in this holding pattern,” Carol Hill Albert told amNewYork on Thursday. “I think I’m going day by day. I really just don’t know.”

Last week, Albert said she was inching closer to accepting the fact that Astroland would close forever on Sept. 7. The park’s lease with developer Thor Equities expires Jan. 31. Thor and City Hall have separate plans for the waterfront property, but construction before the end of next summer is unlikely.

Albert said Thor officials have not contacted her in the past two weeks. She declined to provide a new deadline for making a decision but said the process of selling and removing the rides will take months.

Albert briefly put Astroland’s rides up for sale last year before pulling them off the market. Thor eventually gave the park an 11th-hour lease extension for this year. While the rhetoric from Albert might seem familiar, she says the circumstances are different.

“Last year, every time my rides were to go on sale, I got a call from a city official asking me to pull the rides back, that they thought I was going to get a lease,” she said.

Albert said that city officials have expressed interest in having Astroland return next year but added that she has “not had the same confidence that I had last year.”

August 31st, 2008, 01:45 AM

Updated 08/30/2008 06:34 PM

Astroland Park May Close


Astroland Amusement Park, a Coney Island staple, will close Thursday afternoon unless a new lease is signed.

The park's owner, Carol Albert, wants a longer, two-year lease on its current site, which is owned by Thor Equities.

In a statement, Thor Equities said, "We are extremely disappointed that Carol Albert has decided to give up on the future of Coney Island when her current lease isn't even up for a number of months. However, Coney Island will be fully open for business in the Summer of 2009 with amusements, games, shopping and entertainment galore."

The battle between Thor and Astroland is becoming an annual one. The park almost closed after last year's Labor Day weekend, but a lease extension was reached in October.

September 4th, 2008, 08:55 PM
New York Post



http://www.nypost.com/seven/09042008/photos/astroland.jpg (http://javascript<b></b>:SLIDES.hotlink())

Posted: 2:09 pm
September 4, 2008

Astroland is dead.
The longtime operator of the fabled Coney Island amusement park confirmed today that the 46-year-old Coney Island icon will close its doors for good Sunday because a new lease deal couldn't timely be reached.

As The Post first reported on its Web site Friday, Carol Albert threatened to shut down the park if she didn't get a two-year lease extension by 1 p.m. today at the same rate from Astroland's landlord, controversial developer Joe Sitt.

The deadline passed with both sides not even talking and Sitt waiting to see if Albert was bluffing.

Sitt spokesman Stefan Friedman told the Post the developer won't negotiate "through the media or with a gun held to his head." Rather, he'll wait and see whether Albert really pulls out after the deadline.

He pointed out that the current lease doesn't expire until the end of the year, although Albert has said she needs the extra months to sell off her rides before the lease expires or face hefty penalties from Sitt for failing to vacate the land on time.

The landmarked Cyclone rollercoaster at Astroland is not affected and will remain where it is.

Sitt plans to replace Astroland with new amusements next season. But critics point out that the developer failed miserably this summer when he arranged to have temporary rides and attractions come to vacant boardwalk land he owns off Stillwell Avenue as they were a huge flop.

Many expected Astroland to return in 2009 since the city is at least a year away from implementing an area rezoning plan that, in part, would replace the park and other attractions with new amusements.

Astroland's potential closing comes while many other boardwalk business owners who rent from Sitt are also sweating it out over whether they'll be back next summer. Like Astroland, they had to wait out a lease extension a year ago also.

"I don't know why they wouldn't bring us back – especially when they don't have anything to replace us with?" said a concerned Dianna Carlin, owner of the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique.

She also questioned whether Coney Island's economy would take a serious hit without a major anchor, such as Astroland.

It was unclear just how far apart both sides are in dollars, but Albert's lawyer told Sitt's lawyer in a letter dated Friday that the park has seen expenses increase since last year, particularly a $700,000 surge in insurance costs.

Astroland was seeking a multiple year lease, in part, to give its workers some stability.

The Albert family sold the 3.1-acre Astroland property to Sitt's firm Thor Equities in 2006 for $30 million, but negotiated last year's deal to squeeze in at least one final go-round for Astroland and its employees, many of whom are neighborhood residents with years of service.

September 5th, 2008, 06:46 AM
Shame, what will replace it? some faceless emotionless building plot of some sorts, at least i can say me and my family have been and witnessed astrolands joy.

September 5th, 2008, 09:37 AM
I guess it will join Astroworld. R.I.P. :(

At least you might get to grab some memorabilia at the auction. We scored a nice sign and a chunk of the Texas Cyclone. It was a sad day fo many in the Houston area....


Cyclone awaits the bull dozers.
All that's left.... dirt and a bridge to nowhere.

September 5th, 2008, 02:34 PM
Astroland will be missed, but in recent years has failed to become a real attraction. I hope the eventual replacement will be something that will fit Coney Island's character, and not some Vegas style resort.

September 7th, 2008, 04:56 PM

Updated 2:30 PM

Game Over For Astroland


The Coney Island amusement park, Astroland, is ending a 46-year run today as it closes up shop for the summer and for good.

Co-Owner Carol Hill Albert says she was unable to work out a lease extension with developer Thor Equities, and that she has no choice but to shut down.

Thor says its disappointed with the decision to close the park, but that's little consultation to the Brooklynites and advocates who oppose the major development plan for the beachfront area.

"It's just a damn shame that the City of New York and the developers who bought the property on Coney Island can't do something to preserve the heritage and the legacy of what this place was and the way we want it to be," said Brooklyn Borough Historian Ron Schweiger.

For many New Yorkers, Astroland is synonymous with their childhoods.
"We come here as much as possible and I feel like they're tearing down my whole childhood, my whole life, my legacy," said long-time area resident Terry Rosenzweig. "Everything I have is here. That's why I'm trying to capture everything I can – my last moments of my life growing up here on Coney Island today."

Even though Astroland is closing, fans of the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel shouldn't worry.

Both of those rides are covered by separate leases and are expected to reopen next year.

September 7th, 2008, 10:25 PM
Thus is the fruition of Thor's commitment to the Coney Island and the Amusement Zone.

unknown memory
September 8th, 2008, 03:15 AM
Astroland will be missed, but in recent years has failed to become a real attraction. I hope the eventual replacement will be something that will fit Coney Island's character, and not some Vegas style resort.
Yeah. I hope so too. Put in new kiddie rides and rides that would bring back the real flavor of Coney Island. Astroland had that potential but the aging of the park's carnival rides really does show through and through.

Coney definitely needs the day life and nightlife in some form so people can stay longer. The place use to have a lot of vibrant entertainment, besides the freak shows (if those even existed in its hay day), and plenty of amusements in the past. I'm grateful that the place hasn't ended up like Palisades Park's dreadful end which was that fire that lead to high rise condos.

September 8th, 2008, 09:40 AM
Don't worry, the condos should be there pretty soon.....


unknown memory
September 8th, 2008, 10:39 AM
^ Yep, unfortunately. :( At least, Coney will still have an amusement area but there's going to be that dreaded mall. (And you're happy for Coney's future condos? Heh. :rolleyes: Ok.)

September 8th, 2008, 03:18 PM
Never been to Coney Island but I've always had it in my plans as one of the places to visit.

Looks like I'll have to hurry up before it gets transformed into a place that be visited anywhere.

September 9th, 2008, 06:33 AM
Astroland gets shot at second life as officials push to keep park open

Tuesday, September 9th 2008, 4:00 AM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2008/09/09/amd_astroland.jpg Wenig/AP
Patrons flocked to Astroland Sunday for it's last day of existence. But, it may be alive again soon.

One day after Coney Island's famous Astroland closed for good, city officials Monday floated a plan to resuscitate the historic amusement park.
Despite little interest from Astroland owners and landlord Thor Equities, city officials are pushing the two sides to agree on an interim deal to keep the park open.

Sources said the city then hopes to find a different spot for the beloved park as part of an ambitious plan to redevelop Coney Island.
PHOTO GALLERY: CLICK FOR PICS FROM ASTROLAND'S LAST DAY (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/galleries/final_countdown_at_astroland/final_countdown_at_astroland.html)

"If Astroland's current landlord was willing to extend its lease just until our plan passes, the city will then be in a position to keep Astroland - and all the other amusements - alive, using what would then be city-owned property," said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The last-minute proposal would allow the 3.1-acre park to lease land from the city once the larger plan for the area is approved.
The dramatic makeover of Coney Island has met with one obstacle after another.

The proposal stalled last fall after private landowners and other amusement owners, including Deno's Wonder Wheel amusement park, balked at the city's intention to buy them out and build a single park.

If the city is able to move ahead, sources said, Astroland would be relocated or would buy its current home from Thor, which bought the land in 2006 for a reported $30 million.

Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman said Monday the city had not contacted developer Joseph Sitt about the plans and declined to comment on whether Sitt was willing to reopen negotiations with Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert.

An Astroland spokesman Monday said Albert still had no intention of reopening the park after Sunday's shuttering.

"Talk is cheap," said spokesman Joe Carella, who added that city officials have yet to contact Albert about their plans. "It's just too much of an upstream swim at this point."

Even if the two sides won't come to the table, city officials promised there would still be Astroland-like rides at Coney Island next summer.

jsederstrom@nydailynews.com (jsederstrom@nydailynews.com)


© Copyright 2008 NYDailyNews.com

September 9th, 2008, 03:43 PM
Well, at least we can see this park open for another year. Rather keep it open until the redevelopment actually begins than to leave it abandoned with no progress taking place.

unknown memory
September 9th, 2008, 08:15 PM
It definitely is good for all the visitors/fans if the park does stay open into next summer (and hopefully, beyond that).

One day after Coney Island's famous Astroland closed for good, city officials Monday floated a plan to resuscitate the historic amusement park.
Despite little interest from Astroland owners and landlord Thor Equities, city officials are pushing the two sides to agree on an interim deal to keep the park open.

Sources said the city then hopes to find a different spot for the beloved park as part of an ambitious plan to redevelop Coney Island.
I like this part. That way, people who do enjoy Astroland will get their way while those who really want to see Coney Island be revitalized in some way gets their way. (Just need to block out the shopping portion and pretend it doesn't exist.) It would be interesting to see the old clash with the new instead of just seeing the old stay old.

September 19th, 2008, 03:45 PM
New York Post




Last updated: 8:25 am
September 19, 2008
Posted: 4:31 am
September 19, 2008

A controversial developer is now officially Coney Island's public enemy No. 1 -- at least as far as the Bloomberg administration is concerned.

In the strongest public rebuke of Joe Sitt by a city official, Lynn Kelly, the president of the Coney Island Development Corp., accused the developer of buying up prime boardwalk land and clearing out rides to force the mayor's hand -- so he could build luxury condos and retail.

Kelly said Sitt's attempts to replace the rides he's cleared out the past three summers with temporary amusements have been a huge flop -- including a much-maligned "inflatable" water slide he set up on Stillwell Avenue last summer -- and she even suggested he is privately happy over the failure.

"What's his point? Unless it's [a deceptive attempt] to show that amusements don't work and amusement zoning doesn't work," Kelly told The Post.

Kelly's remarks came a day after she revealed during a Municipal Art Society panel discussion on Coney Island how city officials recently tried to cut an 11th-hour deal to save fabled Astroland from closing but were shot down by Sitt.

The park closed its doors for good last week after 46 years when longtime operator Carol Albert couldn't reach a new lease deal with Sitt, who is Astroland's landlord.

Kelly said the city asked Sitt's Thor Equities firm to give Albert a one-year lease extension. This, she said, would allow the park to remain open next summer and provide sufficient time get the necessary approvals to move Astroland's rides to a section of the boardwalk that the city owns.

"We were told Thor had no interest in our offer or extending the lease," she said.

Albert said Thor Equities has refused to negotiate.

A Sitt spokesman did not return messages seeking comment.

But Sitt through a spokesman has previously tried to blame Albert for Astroland's closing by saying he is "extremely disappointed that" Albert "has decided to give up on the future of Coney Island when her current lease isn't even up" until the end of January.

Albert said she needs the extra months to sell off her rides before the lease expires or face hefty penalties from Sitt for failing to vacate the land on time.

Albert said she has received offers but admits failing to pull the trigger to sell the rides because she "had been holding out for the slimmest of hope" that Sitt would come around.

She is now ready to give up.

"It would be a miracle at this point now," said Albert, adding she wants to relocate all her rides to one location rather than piece-meal.

The offers include parks in other states and from "Arab princes" seeking to move Astroland's rides to the tourist destination of Dubai.

October 15th, 2008, 04:47 PM
Updated On 10/15/08 at 02:51PM

City acquires first parcel in Coney Island

http://s3.amazonaws.com/trd_three/images/53325/wonder_wheel_articlebox.jpg (http://ny.therealdeal.com/assets/53325)
Wonder Wheel

The city's Economic Development Corp. announced today it has bought one acre of land in the Coney Island amusement core for $11 million from Ward Realty Corp. The Ward family is the oldest landowner in Coney Island. This is the first deal of what the city expects to be a series of land acquisitions in coming months in its plan to create a 12-acre, year-round entertainment district in Coney Island. The current tenant, Wonder Wheel Park (http://ny.therealdeal.com/articles/thor-buying-part-of-wonder-wheel-park)(which has the landmarked Wonder Wheel), maintains a lease to operate on the property through 2020, and the property falls within the nine-acre planned parkland in the district. With this acquisition, the city now owns four acres in the Coney Island footprint. TRD

October 16th, 2008, 05:33 AM
City Pays $11 M. For Coney Site Once Sought by Thor

by Eliot Brown (http://www.observer.com/2007/author/eliot-brown)
October 15, 2008

New York City's newest piece of Coney Island.

The Bloomberg administration announced today it has agreed to pay $11 million for a piece of Coney Island boardwalk property, putting into city hands the land under much of Wonder Wheel park owned for decades by the Ward family (http://www.coneyislandhistory.org/).

Complete article HERE (http://www.observer.com/2008/real-estate/city-pays-11-m-coney-site-once-sought-thor)

© 2008 Observer Media Group

October 16th, 2008, 06:28 PM
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

October 16, 2008

Work on Contaminated Coney Site Set for Completion in ’09

Former Gas Manufacturing, Storage Facility Took Years To Clean Up

CONEY ISLAND – Work on the 17-acre former Brooklyn Borough Gas Works, a site with buried industrial wastes and a long history as a manufactured gas plant and gas storage facility, is scheduled to be finished next year after many years of cooperation between government agencies, NationalGrid and its predecessor utilities, and community residents.

The Brooklyn Borough Gas Works, near the highly polluted Coney Island Creek operated between about 1918 through the mid-1950s, when natural gas pipelines were brought into the area and the need to manufacture gas ended. Brooklyn Borough Gas, a local company in southern Brooklyn known for its pioneering employment of female executives, was bought by Brooklyn Union Gas, a predecessor to National Grid, in 1959.

At that time, Brooklyn Union began the demolition of the remaining structures on the site, which included both manufacturing operations and gas-storage tanks. In the early 1980s, with passage of Federal “Superfund” legislation, former gas-manufacturing sites were examined to determine their priority for environmental remediation, but the Brooklyn Borough Gas site was not considered dangerous enough for the federal government to pursue.

Beginning in 1984, Brooklyn Union Gas began commissioning various studies of environmental media at the site (soil, water, seepage, etc.) to determine the level of environmental risk and whether remedial action was required.

In 1995, Brooklyn Union entered into an Order on Consent with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to undertake a remedial investigation of the site. The investigation was completed in 1997. The first major Interim Remedial Measure was the removal of approximately 250 tons of soil containing non-hazardous levels of lead and nearly 1,600 tons of soil containing hazardous concentrations of lead.
Brooklyn Union, which had become KeySpan, continued to work with the state to develop plans to clean up the site. The Remedial Plans included excavation and removal of the top three feet of contaminated sediments along the creek; removal of toxic materials along the banks of the creek; creation of a 50-foot-wide buffer between the creek and the gas-plant site; excavating soil from areas known to contain coal tar in an upland area of the site; and more.

Nearly all of these activities have been completed, according to National Grid. Construction of an on-site treatment plant to treat the liquids collected from the recovery trench, prior to discharge to Coney Island Creek, will be completed early in 2009.
“At the time this project began, a corporate goal was also communicated to our neighbors – to remediate this site to a point where it could be returned to valuable use in the community,” according to a National Grid spokesperson. “While no decisions about eventual re-use have been made, National Grid continues to discuss re-use issues with the Public Service Commission, Community Board 13, the Borough President’s office and the City of New York. As is our policy, we will keep the community informed as these discussions move forward.”

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008

October 27th, 2008, 04:04 PM
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Top Designers To Develop Vision for Coney Island
by Linda Collins

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has invited a team of world-class architects, amusement designers and economists to come up with a new vision for Coney Island.

The MAS will launch an initiative to develop the new ideas at a press conference at noon on today, Monday, Oct. 27, at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Titled “Imagine Coney,” the new initiative will feature a global web-based call for ideas and a charrette (an intense design workshop), featuring international amusement and design experts from Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, Broadway theaters in Manhattan and former Disney executives.

The MAS hopes that by leveraging global ideas and creativity it can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island.

The charrette team will draw from ideas submitted during public workshops and from the web-based call for ideas that will be open to everyone.

Participants in the press conference will include Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and representatives from the Coney Island Development Corporation, the Department of City Planning, Coney Island USA, the Astella Development Corporation, the New York Aquarium, Creative Time, and other local stakeholders.
The team will return to Borough Hall on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 13 and 14, for the charrette, and the results will be presented to the public the following Monday, Nov. 17.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008

October 27th, 2008, 04:14 PM
gotta love the mermaid parade :D







"shoot the freak" LOL!


October 28th, 2008, 05:10 PM
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Worldwide Call Begins For Ideas To Revitalize Coney Amusement Area
by Dennis Holt (Holt@brooklyneagle.net), published online 10-27-2008

Planners from Denmark, Spain, France Come to Borough Hall
By Dennis Holt

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A new planning effort for Coney Island, the initiative of the Municipal Art Society, began Monday morning at Borough Hall. It is not an effort to compete with the city plan for the creation of a new Coney Island, but to focus on the nature of the entertainment section.

The entertainment part has become an emotional element of a Coney Island plan, the city having reduced its size to nine acres from an original concept of 18 acres.

The new planning effort can be considered a brainstorming activity, with the morning Monday devoted to comments and brief presentations by 15 different people or groups. There will be two additional meetings, called charrettes on November 13 and 14, with a final presentation on November 17.

Monday afternoon a tour was conducted for all participants to key features on Coney Island — the Aquarium, Astroland, Keyspan Park, the Childs Building, among them.

This is not planned as merely “another part” in the Coney Island process, of which to date there have been many parts. The charrette team is composed of personnel from Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, the Disney organization, and elsewhere representing a variety of skills and experience in designing and creating entertainment centers.

In addition to the meetings here in Brooklyn, the Art Society will also create a global web-based call for ideas and concepts for the entertainment area.

Kent Barwick, longtime president of the Municipal Art Society who is stepping down from that position, proposed “That by leveraging global ideas and creativity, we can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island.”

The Coney Island process has some uncertainty attached to it. Joesph Sitt, the principal of Thor Equities, owns a major part of the planned entertainment area and has submitted a plan of his own for both the entertainment part and commercial and residential development.

The city countered with its own plan, which, although it has to deal with Sitt’s property ownership, is now the only real plan on the table.

The long and tedious study of all the zoning implications needed to create a revised Coney Island is reaching a significant turning point. The certification process for the new zoning plan is expected to be completed sometime in January and the ULURP (uniform land use review process) will begin then. Details of this plan will very much drive the rest of the planning process, as will the resolution of property ownership.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2008

November 8th, 2008, 06:20 AM
By the Beautiful Sea

From its earliest days, artists of all stripes have been attracted to the Coney Island amusement park, captivated by the crowds, the gaudiness and the pervasive sense of gentle outlaw fun.
Photo: Hazel Hankin

Photographers continue to be drawn there, even as its world-class attractions slowly give way to an undeniable seediness.
Photo: Hazel Hankin

Arminda Montalvo is a bathroom attendant at Astroland. This is one of 36 photographs, along with 32 pieces of fine art in various mediums, which are on view through Dec. 14 at the Puffin Room, a gallery on Broome Street in SoHo. The exhibition bears the poetic title: "Coney Island Maybe."
Photo: Robert & Robbie Bailey

Susan Arrengo, an Astroland worker, on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
Photo: Robert & Robbie Bailey

The pictures serve as a reminder that Coney Island continues to exert a powerful hold on the public imagination.
Photo: Charles Denson

At Coney Island's Stillwell Avenue subway station.
Photo: Hazel Hankin

It's easy to imagine that even a century from now, photographers or their 22nd-century equivalents will be peering through their viewfinders at Coney Island, gazing at the sights and saying, "Smile!"
Photo: Charles Denson


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 8th, 2008, 06:23 AM
The City Visible

Wish You Were Here

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/11/09/nyregion/thecity/09coney.span.jpg Hazel Hankin
A food stand in Coney Island, photographed in 2007. More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/11/07/nyregion/ConeySlide_index.html)

Published: November 7, 2008

ALMOST from the moment the first roller coaster at Coney Island began running in 1884, visual artists of all stripes have been attracted to the amusement park, captivated by the crowds, the gaudiness and the pervasive sense of gentle outlaw fun.

Photographs of beachfronts blanketed with sunbathers are among the most memorable images of the emerging 20th-century metropolis, as are picture postcards from that period, some of them flecked with dustings of glitter, the better to evoke the district’s giddy, quicksilver personality.

In the 21st century, as the area’s future provokes intense and sometimes bitter debate, as that future gyrates as energetically as the park’s signature Wonder Wheel, visual artists and especially photographers continue to be drawn to the place, even as its world-class attractions slowly give way to an undeniable seediness.

Some 36 photographs, along with 32 pieces of fine art in various media, are on view through Dec. 14 at the Puffin Room, a gallery on Broome Street in SoHo, as part of an exhibition bearing the poetic title “Coney Island Maybe.”

These pictures, most of them taken in the past year or so, serve as a reminder that Coney Island continues to exert a powerful hold on the public imagination. It’s easy to imagine that even a century from now, photographers or their 22nd-century equivalents will be peering through their viewfinders, gazing at the sights and saying, “Smile!” — in the hope of capturing the soul of a place that seems never to go out of style.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

November 20th, 2008, 10:12 PM
Coney Island development posts go here. (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3055&page=34)

December 11th, 2008, 10:53 PM

The Death of Astroland: Iconic Rocket Could Be Sold for Scrap

Thursday, December 11, 2008, by Robert


Anyone who's been to Coney Island and doesn't know the Astroland Rocket hasn't really been to Coney Island. Back in the 60s, when Astroland was a "futuristic" amusement park, it was a ride. Then it ended up as a decoration atop those stands that sell really bad food. In any case, as Astroland is slowly being taken apart and put in shipping containers (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/11/24/monday_coney_island_1_astroland_destructoporn.php) , it's in danger of being sold as scrap metal. Here's an email from the Save Coney Island Group that hit inboxes last night:

Help us Save The Astroland Rocket!! We have to find a new location for the Astroland Rocket soon or it will be sold for scrap metal!! Astroland will pay to relocate the rocket if we find a space for it!! It has to be somewhere secure, where people can't vandalize it. Any ideas??
Uh, maybe we were drinking heavily and imagined it, but wasn't the city supposed to be negotiating with developer Joe Sitt (http://curbed.com/archives/2008/11/18/city_confirms_talks_with_sitt_new_vision_circulate s.php) and working on saving Astroland for another year? Because the discussions seem to be going so, so well.

[Photo courtesy of Mr. Jonesy/Coney Island Message Board (http://www.coneyisland.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?num=1227376804/51#51)]

January 4th, 2009, 08:27 PM
What's happened to Astroland is a damn shame. Joe Sitt and his Thor Equities, nothing but a bunch of douchebags.

Astroland has been pretty much my back yard for as long as I can remember, and to see it being demolished annoys me. Coney Island isn't Coney Island without Astroland...

even Denny's Ice Cream is gone :(

January 10th, 2009, 06:19 PM
Hi Guys
Coming to NYC in April - looking to head out to Coney Island - maybe ride the Wonder Wheel etc

Is there anything left worth seeing

Looking on the website

Says Astroland is closed - however also says rides are open??


Any ideas guys?


January 13th, 2009, 09:24 AM
The Astroland site is closed, but the Wonder Wheel (within the site) will be open. The Cyclone is across the street.

March 16th, 2009, 06:21 AM
Fire Shuts Totonno’s, Legendary Coney Island Pizzeria

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/03/16/nyregion/16pizza.xlarge1.jpg Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Eisuke Wakabayashi, a tourist from Japan, at Totonno’s pizzeria on Sunday, the day after a fire.

By MICHAEL WILSON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/michael_wilson/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: March 15, 2009

The same scene of heartbreak played out over and over on Sunday on a ragtag patch of Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, where the word “scrappy” may be better suited to describe the metal in the auto shops than any sort of community spirit.

Since 1924, Totonno’s (http://www.totonnos.com/) pizzeria has been a beacon on the block, remarkable for its longevity, for the deliciousness of its food and, maybe most of all, for its ability to embody a host of Brooklyn-fuhgeddaboudit-pizza clichés — Oh! The sauce! The family atmosphere! The line out the door! — without collapsing under them. Totonno’s had it all, including a no-nonsense owner, Louise Ciminieri, known as Cookie to her friends, as happy to put you in your place as she was to put you in a seat.

Until Sunday, the day after a fire wrecked the place, closing it indefinitely.

Firefighters were called at 8:44 a.m. on Saturday, and had the blaze out by 10:35. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

But is grief a minor injury? Drivers — some with parents sitting expectantly in the back seat — slowed and stared incredulously at the metal gates lowered in front of Totonno’s before throwing up their hands.

“I’ve been meaning to come here,” said a sullen Sergio Crespo, 32, who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and had been trying to introduce his parents — and himself — to the fabled wonders of Totonno’s.

He tried to keep the mood cheery: “We can always go to Nathan’s.”

Sal Squadrito, 60, of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, learned of the fire on Saturday from his daughter, and drove past on Sunday to see for himself.

“I figured I’ve got to take a look,” he said. “We’ve been coming here for years.”

Asked what he loved about Totonno’s, he gave the litany as familiar as a prayer: “The atmosphere, the ingredients — natural, good ingredients.” His favorite: a white pie with extra cheese and garlic.

The news was across the city, with telephones ringing as if there had been a death in the family. Helene Eisenberg, 70, and her husband, Don, also got the news from their daughter.

“This was our place,” said Mrs. Eisenberg, a lifetime resident of Brighton Beach.

Ms. Ciminieri, the owner, did not visit her restaurant Sunday. She’d seen enough on Saturday. But in a telephone interview, she sent a message to any people who feared they’d eaten their last Totonno’s pie: “Thumbs up! We’re going to rebuild.”

Of the inside, she said: “It’s pretty bad. It’s a lot of damage. I have to redo the oven, because the water got into the bricks. We’re going to fix that, rebrick it.”

But, she said, this has been done many times before, to repair cracks. “I promise you, it’ll be the same exact pizza,” she said.

The cause of the fire remained a mystery to her, as well as to the Fire Department. She said the coals from the fire that heated the oven were put away in a firebox at the end of the night Friday.

“For 85 years we’re doing the same thing, dropping the coals into the firebox every night,” said Ms. Ciminieri, who promised to kiss this reporter if he did not reveal her age. “Why would this happen now? I don’t know.”

The restaurant is an occasional stop on the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour (http://www.asliceofbrooklyn.com/), led by Tony Muia, who spoke with reverence of the place on Sunday. “It really is part of the hierarchy of pizzerias here,” he said.

“Lombardi’s — Gennaro Lombardi opened that in 1905,” Mr. Muia added, as if to begin a dissertation, and then explained: There is a picture of Mr. Lombardi posing with his pizza maker, Anthony Pero, who was known as Totonno. Mr. Pero left the mother ship on Spring Street in Little Italy in 1924, shortly after the subway started running out to the hinterlands of Coney Island, and opened his own place there.

Eighty-five years later, Lombardi’s is reserved almost exclusively for tourists, with loudspeakers and hostesses using radio headsets. Not so Totonno’s, which is still open only five days a week and still closes early if ingredients run out.

“Their pizza is a classic Neapolitan brick-oven-style pizza,” Mr. Muia said. “The crust is a nice solid crust for a Neapolitan pie. It’s always evenly cooked around, a nice sort of well-doneness. The sauce is a sweet tomato sauce, and the fresh mozzarell’ — it’s just incredible.”

He said he once took a bunch of Pizza Hut franchise owners on a tour that ended at Totonno’s, and watched them as they sat in rapt attention and listened to Ms. Ciminieri tell stories.

“It was almost like they were little kids,” he said. “I’m sure Cookie is a tough cookie, and she’ll recover from this.”

Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.


Copyright 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 7th, 2009, 06:49 AM
After 98 Years Underwater, a Coney Island Bell Is Back



In the early evening of May 27, 1911, an electric light fell into hot tar and exploded on the Dreamland amusement pier at Coney Island.

Overnight, the pier’s ornate white buildings, restaurants, thrill rides, ballroom and tents — which attracted 40,000 people a day — were vaporized in the ensuing fire, said Charles Denson, a Coney Island historian.

By the time the sun rose on what would have been the opening day of the season, the 1,200-foot-long iron pier had melted into the ocean, taking part of New York’s history with it. “This is the only major item to survive; there aren’t even photos of the fire,” Mr. Denson said on Tuesday morning, gesturing to a 500-pound bronze bell, 3 feet high and 3 feet wide and flecked with the remnants of barnacles, that was recovered by divers last month (http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local&id=6995023).

The bell was unveiled at Brooklyn Borough Hall, and there are plans being discussed for a tour of other city buildings, including City Hall and the New York Aquarium.

The bell, marked “James Gregory, New York, 1885,” for its maker and casting date, is suspended in a wooden frame above a bucket of water, which, in a preservation effort, is pumped over the bell to keep it wet.

“It was on the tip of the pier and used to announce the arrivals and departures of steamships from Brooklyn and the tip of Manhattan,” said David Grider, an architect and amateur historian who helped trace the origins of the bell to a foundry on the Lower East Side.

Mr. Denson added, “Millions would have heard this bell during Coney Island’s heyday.”

A picture mounted in Borough Hall shows men in stiff suits, corseted women and excited children as they debarked from boats run by the Iron Steamboat Company between the two boroughs: 35 cents one way and 45 cents round trip, according to a timetable on display.

The pier, and its artifacts, were thought lost forever until Gene Ritter, a professional diver in Brooklyn, discovered remnants of Dreamland in 1990. Many dives later — in the warm, clear water of an afternoon last November — Mr. Ritter and one of his diving partners, Louie Scarcella, found the bell. It sat 25 feet down, upright but tilted slightly in the sand, Mr. Ritter said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said.

The bell was lifted from the sea with inflatable bags last month and towed to the Gateway Marina on Flatbush Avenue. It was then hauled by crane onto land. The bell was in good condition and had mostly “resisted marine growth,” said Mr. Denson, the executive director of the Coney Island History Project (http://www.coneyislandhistory.org/). Mr. Ritter said he wanted to return to the dive site in a bigger boat to check for other items. “Every single artifact we find will stay here,” he said. “They belong to the people.”

Other scuba enthusiasts may have different aims. “There are so many scavengers who would steal something like this and sell it,” said Mr. Denson. “Some people think the bell is worth up to $1 million, as it’s so old and so representative of Coney Island’s history.”

Mr. Ritter said he was pursuing legal means to preserve the underwater find, declining to elaborate for fear of jeopardizing those safeguards. In the meantime, he maintains a network of local spies who inform him when any activity is spotted on the water near the site.

Mr. Denson indulged in a fantasy: “It would just be easier if we could clone this like the DNA of a dinosaur,” he said, looking at the bell, “and grow the whole of Dreamland back.”


June 19th, 2011, 11:34 AM
Did anybody else enjoy the Mermaid Parade yesterday?!

June 19th, 2011, 02:04 PM
If you want to see more picks I posted a slew here starting at post #278:


June 29th, 2011, 01:12 AM
Sleeping Beauty on Coney Island Beach (http://wirednewyork.com/brooklyn/coney_island/)

Interracial love on Coney Island Beach (http://wirednewyork.com/brooklyn/coney_island/)