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Monkey Speedway Banner

Monkey Speedway Banner “The Race” by Sigler Studios, circa 1950s. 248″ x 96″. Mosby & Co Auctions, November 29, 2014.

Vintage monkey speedway banners by Sigler Studios, sideshow banners by Fred Johnson, and shrunken head and mummy gaffs by Homer Tate are among the midway artifacts up for auction at Mosby & Co. Auctions’ November 29th live and online sale. A selection of carnival games that have disappeared from the midway will also be in the sale. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

“The Monkey Speedway ‘The Start’ and ‘The Race’ are the two best Sigler banners we have ever handled,” said Mosby’s owner Keith Spurgeon, who noted that it was probably painted by Jack Sigler Sr. The banners drew people over to a midway attraction that was popular on carnivals through the 1950s and 60s. Trained monkeys in little metal cars raced around a wooden track while customers Continue Reading »

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Brooklyn Theatre Index Vol III“Henderson’s and Inman’s still offer the cream of the vaudeville acts to be seen at Coney Island…” according to a story in The New York Dramatic Mirror back in the summer of 1898. Both music halls are long gone from Coney Island’s Henderson’s Walk and the Walk itself is now a private parking lot thanks to property owner Joe Sitt’s demolition of the Shore Hotel and the Henderson Building. Henderson’s and Inman’s are among dozens of entertainment venues in old Coney Island catalogued in the newly published The Brooklyn Theatre Index Vol III. The third volume of theater historian Cezar Del Valle’s borough-wide opus covers Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach.

Del Valle’s area of expertise is New York City popular entertainment between 1850 and the 1950s, including special emphasis on actual theater buildings. The book project began with listings compiled over a 25-year-period by Dario Marotta, whose interest in theater history was inspired by a photo of his late uncle standing in front of his nickelodeon in Williamsburgh circa 1912. Marotta never discovered the location of his uncle’s theater, proving the ephemeral nature of many of these venues. In 2002, he gave his research to Del Valle, who kept the information on file for use in articles, talks, and walking tours. Eventually he began adding to the listings with library and internet research of his own at the Theatre Historical Society of America’s Michael Miller Collection.

Del Valle also pored over newspaper clipping files in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle “morgue,” which is housed in over 150 filing cabinets at the Brooklyn Public Library. “Both Marotta and Miller had problems researching Coney Island. I was fortunate because more and more publications became available online, between 2010-2014, and these were searchable,” Del Valle told ATZ. “Trade publications like Variety and The New York Clipper are now available along with a staggering number of newspapers.”

Henderson's Music Hall

Henderson’s Music Hall. Staley’s Views of Coney Island by Frank W. Staley, 1907. Cezar Del Valle Collection

The 250-page book is organized alphabetically by street name with the Bowery and Surf Avenue having the lion’s share of performing venues. Among the quaintly named places are Perry’s Glass Pavilion, a music hall and Continue Reading »

Coney Island Farmer’s Market

Alex’s Tomato Farm from Carlisle, NY, at Coney Island Farmer’s Market, November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

There’s no funnel cake for sale this time of year in Coney Island, but you can get Brussels sprouts on the stalk. The Coney Island Farmers’ Market is on Surf Avenue at West 16th Street in front of MCU every Sunday from July to mid-November. Hours are 7am through 3pm, but Alex’s Tomato Farm was still there when we strolled by after 4 on Sunday.

Alex’s Tomato Farm

Alex’s Tomato Farm from Carlisle, NY, at Coney Island Farmer’s Market, November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

April 6, 2014: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island’s Dancing Cat

March 25, 2013: Photo of the Day: Palms on Palm Sunday in Coney Island

December 23, 2012: Photo of the Day: It’s a Wrap at Tom’s Coney Island

June 9, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mango Vendor in Coney Island

1904 Surf Avenue

Coney Island Brewing Co has applied for a brewer’s license at the 1904 Surf Ave store formerly occupied by Danny Boy’s Pizza. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Coney Island Brewing Company, which relaunched a year ago after being sold to Alchemy & Science, a division of Samuel Adams, has applied for a license to open a brewery at 1904 Surf Avenue in Coney Island, sources tell ATZ. The new brewery will mark a return to Coney for the namesake brand, which under Shmaltz Brewing ownership operated the “World’s Smallest Brewery” in a tiny storefront next to the freak show. That brewery was part of Coney Island USA’s small business incubator program from 2011 until it got washed away by Sandy. The new retail space at 1904 Surf on the outside of MCU Park was formerly occupied by Danny Boy’s Pizza and is adjacent to Peggy O’Neill’s and the MCU Credit Union.

“We’re not ready to make an official announcement, there is paperwork still being processed,” Kathleen Barnes of the Coney Island Brewing Company told ATZ. According to the New York State Liquor Authority, the application was filed on September 26 and is pending. The NYSLA has no set timetable for approval, but after a brewer’s license is granted, the permittee has the option of Continue Reading »

Dewey Albert Place and Milton Berger Place

Dewey Albert Place and Milton Berger Place, Surf Ave and W 10th St, Coney Island. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Have you ever looked up at the names immortalized on the street signs in front of the Cyclone roller coaster and wondered– who are Dewey Albert and Milton Berger? ATZ’s compendium of Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places, both official and unofficial, includes Coney Island luminaries of the past as well as the present-day paparazzi of People’s Playground Paparazzi Plaza. While there are no streets in Coney named after women, two powerful women in the Bloomberg administration had the rare honor of having new rides named after them.

Dewey Albert Place

Dewey Albert Place, Surf Ave and W 10th st, Coney Island. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Honorary street namings are sponsored by New York City Council members, voted upon by the Council and signed into law by the Mayor. “Proposed honorees must be individuals who are deceased and of significant importance to New York City,” according to the City Council. In June 1997, in recognition of the work and life of Dewey Albert, founder of Astroland, and in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cyclone Roller Coaster, 10th Street between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk was named Dewey Albert Place.  Continue Reading »

This weekend is your last chance to dance with the life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and enjoy the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” before they close for the year. These independently owned amusements cost only 25 cents each and are located on West 12th Street off the Boardwalk, beneath Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

When ATZ “interviewed” Miss Coney after she moved from Jones Walk in 2012, it was revealed that in a past life she was an Indian princess automaton at Connecticut’s Great Danbury Fair. Though you’d never guess it after her glam makeover, this doll dates back to the 1930s. The shimmying mannequin is a magnet for visiting divas. Catch her at 2:20 in Beyonce’s music vid XO and with Rita Ora in a fashion shoot for Vibe Magazine. Miss Coney Island’s taglines on twitter are “Don’t Postpone Joy” and “25 cents to fall in LOVE.” Continue Reading »

Chance Turbo

Ad for a Chance Turbo ride in Zhejiang, China, which recently sold to an amusement park in Canada via usedrides.com. November 7, 2014

A surreal-looking amusement ride from the 1970’s called the Turbo has hundreds of devoted fans ready to schedule their vacations and travel to distant places for its comeback. Though only 23 Turbos were manufactured by Chance Rides from 1970 through 1976, and none are currently in operation, two are being lovingly restored in California and Australia. The 635 members of the Turbo Amusement Ride Fan Club, a private group on Facebook, are eagerly awaiting the chance to go for a retro spin.

A few days ago, when an ad for a Turbo for sale in Zhejiang, China appeared on usedrides.com, excitement ensued. The price: $49,000. No sooner were the pros and cons of a crowdfunding campaign to buy it being discussed than ATZ learned from the seller that the ride, which had been brought from Australia a decade ago, had sold to a park in Canada. “Playland in Vancouver,” seller Jack Su told ATZ via email. A call to the park seeking comment has yet to be returned.

UPDATE, November 14: ATZ just received confirmation from PNE Maintenance Supervisor Peter Tremblay that Playland Vancouver has indeed purchased the Turbo from China and expects it to debut in 2016. Will the PNE modify their plan to replace the iconic buckets as the overhaul of the ride moves forward? It is always controversial when a park Continue Reading »

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