In 1949, LIFE photographer Andreas Feininger took a series of now classic time lapses of Coney Island rides including the Ferris Wheel, Hurricane and Gyro Globe. The pictorial was titled “Coney Island: Its Stomach-Curdling Rides Make Beautiful Light Patterns At Night.” This gelatin silver print of the Coney’s Gyro from the private collection of György Kepes is up for auction at Skinner’s May 16th sale (Presale estimate $3,000-$5,000).
In the magazine, the Gyro was described as “a metal monster which simultaneously spins and tilts its victims, looks weird enough by day, becomes a fantastic skein of light threads at night. Billed as the only one of its kind in the world, it is known as a ‘laughing ride.'”
It turns out the “Gyroscope” was the creation of Charles Hermann, who is best known as the inventor of Coney Island’s famous Wonder Wheel, for which he assigned the rights to the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company in 1920. According to a 1947 article in the Billboard, park operator Jimmy Kyrimes leased a lot on the Bowery at 12th Street to Hermann for his new thriller, which was brought to Coney after debuting in Long Beach, California. Members of the Garms family, the original owners and operators of the Wonder Wheel, were partners in Hermann’s Gyro Amusement Corporation. Two decades later, the one-of-a-kind ride disappeared from Coney Island.
Another Feininger photograph in the sale is titled ‘Merry-Go-Round,’ though it’s a Rocket Ship ride. The marquee of the RKO Tilyou Theater on Surf Avenue can be seen in the background (Presale estimate $1,000-$1,500).
Related posts on ATZ…
April 18, 2014: British Pathé Releases Historic Newsreels of Coney Island
April 3, 2014: Rare & Vintage: 100-Year-Old Coney Island Ride Tickets
November 1, 2013: After 80 Years in Popcorn Biz, Family’s Heirloom Wagons Up for Sale
January 13, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Reginald Marsh Photos of Coney Island