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Posts Tagged ‘Astroland’

In 1970, a German tourist on his first trip to New York shot this Super 8 film in Coney Island. It offers a tantalizing glimpse of the Bowery’s original arcade architecture, since destroyed by fires, and the Playland Arcade on the Boardwalk, where Nathan’s is now. You’ll also see Astroland’s Skyride and Astrotower as well as Ward’s Fairyland Park-now Deno’s Kiddie Park. Only the Wonder Wheel, which is emblazoned with a banner saying “Our 50th Year,” and the Cyclone roller coaster, look the same today. Just wish the film was longer!

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Stump of the Astrotower

The AstroStump, all that remains of the Astrotower, decorated for Halloween at Coney Island’s Luna Park. October 5, 2013

ATZ’s award for the creepiest, most inappropriate Halloween decoration goes to Luna Park for a bizarre attempt at paying homage to the demolished Astrotower. Formerly wrapped in a tarp, the AstroStump is all that remains of the tower, which is now bedecked with skeleton props as the centerpiece of a faux graveyard for the park’s Halloween celebration. Seeing the blackened, blow-torched edges of the chopped down icon for the first time was very unsettling. It’s like seeing the tortured corpse of a dear departed friend who would have been 50 years old next year. They got the date wrong on the tombstone–the tower debuted in 1964, not 1962.

What were they thinking? Well, the original All Hallows’ Eve provided one last chance for humans to propitiate the restless dead and for the dead to gain vengeance before moving to the next world. Not sure if dead landmarks have restless spirits, but the Astrotower was practically human since it used to sing. It’s been three months since the genuinely horrific July 4th Week when the 275-foot tower was cut apart with blowtorches in a marathon demolition following hysterical claims that it was swaying more than usual had closed most of Coney Island. The tower’s cut-down sections were carted off to the Cropsey Avenue junkyard while the stump was hidden from view by a tarp and fenced off like it had the plague.

The Remains of the Astrotower

The Astrostump is all that remains of the 275-foot Astrotower. July 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Considering that not a trace remains of Astroland at the site of the former Astroland except this stump, it would have been more appropriate for Luna Park to put up a real plaque after the demolition. It’s distressing that a recollection of a tragic episode in Coney Island history, especially one that happened just three months ago, is reduced to a fake graveyard for Halloween.

However, not everyone agrees that this Halloween decoration is in bad taste. One Coney Island fan tweeted that the idea was “extremely clever.” Also in the faux graveyard are tombstones of long dead Coney luminaries such as Tilyou, Feltman, Handwerker and Mangels as well as a gravestone for Astroland Park. What do you think?

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 9, 2013: Photo Album: Remembering the Astrotower (1964-2013)

July 3, 2013: Long Live Coney Island’s Swaying, Singing Astrotower!

September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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This weekend was the 5th anniversary of the closing of Coney Island’s Astroland. Founded in 1962, the park’s last day of operation was Sunday, September 7, 2008. Instead of showing photos of the park’s last day and night, we’ve gathered some videos of Astroland’s most popular rides in action.

“If you want to get off this ride at any time, raise your hand, we’ll set you free, y’all better hold on. Here we go, here we go, here here we go oh…,” says the operator of the Huss Breakdance at the beginning of the on-ride video made by TheDod3.com.

According to the website, which features ride reviews, photos and videos by a very knowledgeable ride enthusiast: “Most amusement parks in the US will run their Breakdance rides at a moderate speed, turning it into a ride good for everyone. Other Breakdance rides, such as damn near every single one in Europe and Astroland’s old Breakdance, are thrill rides through and through.”

Astroland’s Breakdance and Pirate Ship went to Costa Rica. The Topspin relocated to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, where it survived Sandy and has since been sold to Deggeller Attractions, a traveling carnival.

One of the Astroland Stars from the Surf Avenue gate is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The 8-foot by 7-and-a-half-foot lighted star will be in an exhibit next year.

Since the Astrotower was demolished over the July 4th weekend, its stump is all that remains of Astroland on City-owned property in Coney Island. There are rumors that the iconic Astroland Rocket will finally return to Coney Island as promised by City officials in 2009.

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September 5, 2013: It’s Time to Bring the Astroland Rocket Back to Coney Island

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

April 14, 2012: Astroland Bumper Cars Return Home to Coney Island

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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