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Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 20, 2009. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade gets rolling on Saturday at 1:00pm. The free event is one of the most hugely crowded days of the year in Coney Island. If you’re not marching, where are the best places to spectate and take photos? Anywhere along Surf Avenue from the parade’s starting point at West 21st Street to West 10th Street, where it turns to go onto the Boardwalk. You’ll miss the antique cars and motorized floats if you opt for the backdrop of the Cyclone on West 10th and the seaside atmosphere of the boardwalk. This year, the parade disbands at Steeplechase Plaza, where the Parachute Jump is located on the boardwalk at West 17th Street.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 19, 2010. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

ATZ asked photographer Barry Yanowitz, who grew up in Coney Island and whose splendid photos from past parades are featured in this post, to share his strategy for Saturday. “On the parade route itself, my favorite spot is across from Nathan’s – that makes a great backdrop. The only problem is that this spot gets very crowded very fast so you have to stake out a spot early.” Yes, it bears repeating. GET THERE EARLY. Latecomers will not be able to navigate due to the crowds and crossing Surf Avenue while parade is in progress is iffy due to NYPD barricades.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Spectators stand on scaffolding on north side of Surf Ave. at Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

“My favorite part of shooting the Mermaid Parade is actually not on the parade route itself,” says Barry. “It’s all the activity around it before and after! I love all the behind the scenes moments of participants getting ready and casually hanging out in Coney Island in their costumes.”

The best place to take photos before the parade is the staging area on West 21st Street from 10:30am till 12:30pm. “You do not have to make reservations to take pictures on West 21st Street. You just have to pay $20 in advance or day of, CASH ONLY,” according to Coney Island USA’s handy set of Mermaid Parade FAQs. “If you are Working Press with an NYPD Press Pass, you can enter the West 21st Street staging area for free.”

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade Staging Area, June 18, 2011. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

One of ATZ’s fave viewing spots is from the judges’ reviewing stand, where paraders stop to do choreographed dance numbers for “Mayor” Dick Zigun, King Neptune and Queen Mermaid and bribe the judges with goodies. You can buy a judgeship –yes, only in Coney!– for the price of a $150 “Big Spender” membership with non-profit Coney Island USA, which produces the parade. The judgeship entitles you to VIP seating on the canopied reviewing stand (Surf Avenue, between West 19th and 20th Streets), a Mermaid Parade Judge T-Shirt, and bribes.

“This year, instead of one, there will be three official stopping points for marchers to do their routines,” says Meryl Vladimer of Coney Island USA. The performance stops are the judges reviewing stand at 20th Street, in front of Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues, and in front of Coney Island USA at Surf and West 12th Street.

After the parade, everywhere is a good spot, as mermaids and pirates cavort on the beach and boardwalk, have a drink at Ruby’s Bar, and go for a spin on the rides. If you can’t make it to Coney on Saturday afternoon, there’s the Mermaid Parade Ball from 6pm till midnight at MCU Park. General admission is $35, VIP for $100 available online only.

Mermaid Parade Barry Yanowitz

Coney Island Mermaid Parade, June 23, 2012. Photo © Barry Yanowitz

Related posts on ATZ…

June 30, 2012: Photo of the Day: Queen Mermaid Annabella Sciorra Opening the Ocean

June 16, 2011: Last Chance to See Mermaid Parade Before It Turns 30!

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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Miss Colombia with Carino the Poodle and Rosita the Parrot

Miss Colombia with Carino the Poodle and Rosita the Parrot, Coney Island Boardwalk. August 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Memorial Day in Coney Island, the colorfully costumed Oswaldo Gomez aka Miss Colombia paraded by and we scurried to take a photo. Rosita the parrot was as usual perched on his head. Where was Carino the poodle? “Carino died,” Oswaldo said. “He was 17.” That’s the equivalent of 84 in human years. The poodle passed away earlier this month.

Carino and Rosita Ride the Steeplechase Horse

Carino and Rosita Ride the Steeplechase Horse at the Coney Island History Project, May 27, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

It was on Memorial Day Weekend in 2008 that we first became aware of Miss Colombia and his pets as a New York City phenom. The Mermaids, a male folk rock duo, were singing in front of the Cyclone when he came by, took the dog out of the carriage, pirouetted around and stole the show. The flamboyant trio have been in every parade in New York City and are the subject of their very own flickr group. You’ve seen them in the Mermaid Parade, the Easter Parade, the Chinese New Year’s Day Parade, the West Indian Day Parade, Gay Pride, and St Pat’s.

Victory dance

Victory Dance after winning 1st Prize at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s Pet Day, June 11, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

As regular visitors to the People’s Playground, the dog and the parrot got to “ride” the Steeplechase horse and the antique Whip car at the Coney Island History Project. They won first prize in the first annual Pet Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Afterwards, Miss Colombia did a victory dance while the parrot perched on Carino’s back, clasping the prize–a season’s pass to the Wonder Wheel– in her beak. Rest in peace, sweet little Carino.

Miss Colombia and Carino in Mermaid Parade

Miss Colombia and Carino in Mermaid Parade, June 20, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Related Posts on ATZ…

May 22, 2014: Video of the Day: Parrots Visit Coney Island

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

May 8, 2013: Traveler: The Cats of Rimini’s Italia in Miniatura Park

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Thunderbolt Roller Coaster

Parachute Jump framed by the Thunderbolt’s Vertical Loop, Luna Park, Coney Island. May 17, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

Weekend visitors to Coney Island were wowed by the sight of Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster under construction on West 15th Street. Set to open on Memorial Day, which is just one week away, the new $10 million dollar ride’s track rolls, loops, turns and dives from the Boardwalk to Surf Avenue and back again. Photographer Jim McDonnell, who has been documenting the work in progress since Day 1, has captured the sculptural elegance of the coaster. The Thunderbolt has already made its mark on Coney Island’s skyline. Seen from a certain vantage point, the landmark Parachute Jump–Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower– is framed by the Loop in a shot that is destined to become a favorite of People’s Playground photographers and a Coney classic.

Thunderbolt Loop Completed

Loop on Luna Park’s new Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Completed, May 15, 2014. Photo © Jim McDonnell

On Thursday, the Thunderbolt’s 100-foot Loop was completed. It was a stunning moment because it’s the first coaster with a vertical loop in Coney Island since the 1901-1910 Loop the Loop, which stood on the corner of West 10th Street where the Cyclone is today. Edwin Prescott’s ride was one of the first to charge admission just to watch. A sign warned “Beware of Pickpockets!” and another said “STRAP YOURSELVES.” The ride’s motto, printed on its tickets, was “Heels up, Heads down!” But the Loop the Loop’s low capacity of four passengers per 10 cent ride was not enough to turn a profit. The Thunderbolt will cost $10 or 10 Luna Park credits to ride. If you’re not brave enough to give it a go, it will of course be free to watch.

Loop the Loop

Edwin Prescott’s Loop the Loop, Coney Island, 1901-1901. Library of Congress

As previously noted (“High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster,” ATZ, March 10, 2014), Coney Island has been home to dozens of roller coasters since the Switchback Railway debuted in 1884 but it’s been a long 87 years since one was custom built for Coney — the Cyclone in 1927. The new ride is named in honor of the 1925 Thunderbolt, which occupied an adjacent lot on the same block until it was controversially and illegally demolished in 2000 on the orders of Mayor Giuliani.

The Thunderbolt is the third Zamperla coaster in Luna Park to be named after Coney Island attractions of the past. In 2010, their Wild Mouse-style spinning coaster was rechristened “The Tickler” in honor of an innovative 1906 thrill ride in the original Luna Park, after which the park is named. The next year, a Pony Express-themed Motocoaster in Scream Zone was dubbed the Steeplechase Coaster, after Steeplechase Park’s signature horse race ride.

Loop the Loop Ticket

Loop the Loop Ticket, Coney Island, early 1900s. Via eBay seller childhoodthings

UPDATE May 20, 2014

UPDATE May 30, 2014

Watch this video from last evening, when the Thunderbolt went for its 1st first test run.

UPDATE June 15, 2014

The Thunderbolt had its grand opening on Saturday! Here’s the official POV video released by Luna Park

Related posts on ATZ…

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

February 23, 2014: Sunday Matinee: Under the Roller Coaster (2005)

September 22, 2012: Saturday Matinee: Coney Island’s Mite Mouse Coaster (1992)

April 21, 2012: Saturday Matinee: A Switchback Railway (1898)

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Andreas Feininger Gyro

Andreas Feininger, The Gyro, Coney Island, 1949. Skinner Auctions. May 16, 2014.

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).

Andreas Feininger, Merry-go-round

Andreas Feininger, Merry-Go-Round, Coney Island, 1949. Skinner Auctions. May 16, 2014.

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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

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New Yokr Aquarium Mural

Detail of Mural at New York Aquarium After Removal. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Back in March, the New York Aquarium’s popular mural on the Coney Island Boardwalk at West 8th Street was partially taken down due to the poor condition of the wall. Two-thirds of the approximately 211-foot-long mural was removed. We were waiting to see what would happen at the site before writing about it, but no work has been observed since then.

The frequently photographed mural depicts such Coney Island landmarks as the Parachute Jump, Cyclone and Wonder Wheel along with tidbits of historical info and quotes such as George C Tilyou’s famous line “If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world.” Details that were removed include Dreamland’s Iron Tower, a capsule from Astroland’s Skyride, and scenes of undersea life. The artwork was painted in 2006.

New York Aquarium Mural

New York Aquarium: Reconstruction of Crumbling Wall Aquarium Required Removal of Mural

Several readers have emailed to ask if the mural will be repainted after repairs to the wall. “The mural is being taken down for safety reasons,” WCS spokesperson Barbara Russo replied to a query from ATZ. “I’ll give you more updates as I have them.” Word from the Aquarium staff is no decision has yet been made.

Mural at New York Aquarium

Detail of Mural at New York Aquarium After Removal. March 21, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

According to the Mural Locator website, the seaside mural was a pro bono project taken on by artist Thanh X Tran and VSA Partners.

Working on a very tight deadline, a four-person team completed the illustration using Adobe Illustrator and stock photos as tracing references. In partnership with Colossal Media—one of the last sign painting companies in New York—we transferred the complicated design onto the wall’s surface. Over one hundred volunteers painted the mural (approximately 15 x 211 feet) in the span of a week, to the delight of Coney Island’s locals.

New Yokr Aquarium Mural

The Aquarium’s Coney Island Mural was a Popular Spot for Musicians. February 22, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 5, 2013: Ghost Signs on Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue

June 1, 2013: If Paris Is France, Coney Island, between June and September, Is the World

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

June 1, 2011: Photo Album: Street Art Down by the Coney Island Bowery

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Coney Island Skyline

First Tower of Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster on the Coney Island Skyline. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

While Coney Island’s amusement parks are already open for fun in the sun on Saturdays and Sundays, these photos provide a glimpse of some of the new construction underway this month. Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is set to debut on Memorial Day weekend, is rising on the skyline. In the above photo the first tower can be seen alongside the Parachute Jump, SkyCoaster, PTB Bar’s lighthouse and the Boardwalk’s ornamental lamp posts. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?

Here’s a rendering of how the steel coaster will look when completed. The $10 million dollar ride is Coney Island’s first custom-built coaster since the Cyclone debuted in 1927 and is named in honor of the demolished 1925 Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction

Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Luna Park has also built new booths for water race, basketball and balloon games on the Boardwalk next to Scream Zone’s SkyCoaster. The stands will house the first games on the Boardwalk, which historically had arcades and games galore, since Shoot the Freak lost its lease in 2010.

Game booths Coney Island

New game booths under construction on the Boardwalk. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday, ATZ posted photos of two new mom & pop businesses under construction on Surf Avenue and also set to open in May. Lunatic Ice Cream will occupy the former Island Grocery and Luna Park Cafe is across the street from the Cyclone. Next to Stillwell Terminal, a new building is going up to house a Johnny Rockets franchise, but the “Coming Soon” sign may be overly optimistic considering the slow progress of construction at the site. Coming in 2014?

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

December 2, 2013: New Construction: Coney Island Area’s 1st Hotel in Decades

September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks

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Photo Booth Under the Wonder Wheel

Photo Booth Under the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last month, a former Brooklynite whose daughter would soon be celebrating her 4th birthday was looking for a photo booth in New York City. “Every year we’ve gone to a photo booth for her birthday and this year we cannot find one,” he wrote. “All the ones we’ve used, or seen, have been removed. We’re from Brooklyn, but now live in PA, and we’re visiting this weekend. Is there a booth that’s in an accessible area?”

The only one we could think of that wasn’t in a dive bar and was open is in Manhattan’s Ace Hotel in the Flatiron district. The concierge said it is open to the public. They have them at all of their hotel locations. Under the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island, which opens for the 2014 season on Sunday, there is both an old-fashioned black and white and a color photo booth. So much better than a selfie!

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

April 5, 2014: Photo Album: A Solitary Evening Stroll in Coney Island

March 29, 2014: Photo of the Day: Chomping at the Bit for Coney Island’s Opening Day

February 28, 2014: Photo Album: Wonder Wheel Park Preps for Coney Island’s Opening Day

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