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Racers at Coney Island Velodrome

Two racers at the Coney Island Velodrome. The star is Tom Duffin Jr. Photo courtesy Century Road Club Association via NYBikeJumble.com

The news that philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz’s plan to donate $50M to build an indoor velodrome in Brooklyn Bridge Park was scrapped got us thinking: Why not build the velodrome in Coney Island, which had an outdoor one from 1930 until the 1950s? It was New York’s last commercial bicycle racing venue, according to NY Bike Jumble founder Harry Schwartzman, who curated an exhibit of bikes, photos and ephemera relating to the Coney Island Velodrome at Brooklyn’s Old Stone House in 2010.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Rechnitz and his nonprofit NYC Fieldhouse had withdrawn the proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park due to high site costs and would seek another location in the New York Metro area for the sports complex. According to NYC Fieldhouse’s website: “As currently envisioned, a facility of no more than 115,000 sq. ft. will hold a maximum of 2499 seats. It will feature a 200-meter inclined cycling track, a boathouse, a 22,000 sq. ft. infield and other spaces that will serve various public uses including sporting events and community activities.” The gift was the largest single donation to New York City parks and would have covered the design and construction of the building as well as any revenue shortfall over the first ten years.

Velodrome rider

Velodrome Rider. Photo courtesy Century Road Club Association via NYBikeJumble.com

The Coney Island Velodrome was a 10,000-seat arena with a 1/8-mile wooden oval track. The venue also hosted prize fights and midget car racing. The velodrome was razed in 1955 to make way for Luna Park Houses. ATZ asked Schwartzman for his thoughts on the Coney Island Velodrome and the possibility of bringing it back. He said in an email:

The Coney Island Velodrome at 12th and Neptune was a ‘competition’ track where a typical race day would include up to twenty three events, from 100 meter sprints to 40 mile motor paced events where riders would shadow a motorcycle around the track at speeds upwards of fifty miles an hour. The track was built in the thirties, waning days of the popularity of bicycle track racing in the USA, and the sport was not as popular as it had been in the eighteen nineties or in the twenties, when stars, gangsters and celebrities would frequent the races.

Coney Island’s audience would have been more proletarian and most likely recent immigrants from lands where bicycle racing was still popular. Cycling is still a very accessible sport, and track racing is even more so than any other discipline. With the explosion of the popularity of cycling, it’s the perfect time to bring back the Coney Island Velodrome!

Coney Island Velodrome

Coney Island Velodrome Program, Collection of Century Road Club Association. Courtesy NYBikeJumble.com

Related posts on ATZ…

December 30, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2012

October 7, 2012: ATZ’s Big Wish List for the New Coney Island

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

December 19, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

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Hippie bus mer people. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Hippie bus mer people. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This week is an eventful one in Coney Island. Ringling Bros. troupe of acrobats, daredevils, clowns, tigers, elephants and dachshunds are arriving for a summer-long run. The Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens on Thursday, June 18th. The Brooklyn Cyclones season opener and the first Friday Night Fireworks of the season are on Friday, June 19th. Mer people from all over the world are on the way to Coney for the 2009 Mermaid Parade and Ball on Saturday, June 20. See you there!

MONDAY, JUNE 15

Live Jazz at Cha Cha’s Bar & Cafe on the Boardwalk

Puppets Jazz Club of Park Slope & JT of Cha Cha’s present Live Jazz on Mondays at Cha Cha’s of Coney Island.

Monday, June 15, Cha-Cha’s, Boardwalk just east of Stillwell Ave, 718-946-1305

TUESDAY, JUNE 16

Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens for the summer on Thursday, June 18.  Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Ringling Bros.Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus opens for the summer on Thursday, June 18. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Ringling Circus event celebrating the renaming of 21st Street “BOOM A RING Blvd.” for the summer

Don’t forget your camera! Members of the Coney Island Rumor Mill have been expecting their first sighting of Ringling’s Asian elephants at Tuesday’s celebration. It turns out there is a Ringling Boom A Ring Rumor Mill too! They’re sayin’ the elephants will not be part of tomorrow’s event, but the performers will be there to meet their new neighbors. It will be FUN….

The celebration will include representatives of and performers from The Greatest Show On Earth, the unveiling of “BOOM A RING Blvd.” and “Elephant Crossing” signs, special guest Lynn Kelly, President of the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), and music courtesy of Brooklyn’s own Soul Tigers Marching Band.

“We are thrilled that the Ringling Brother’s Circus has come to Coney Island,” said CIDC President Lynn Kelly. “With the Circus in town, and Coney’s iconic rides and amusements really fun and really open this summer, this is the beginning of what we hope is a long relationship with Ringling Brother’s and a preview of what’s to come.”

Tuesday, June 16 at 11 a.m. Corner of 21st Street and Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Ringling Bros Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ringling Bros Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Posters in Stillwell Station. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

THURSDAY, JUNE 18

Opening Night of Ringling Bros. “Coney Island Boom-A-Ring” Circus with a special performance saluting Coney Island

Performers include Vicenta Pages and her seven white Bengal tigers; the daredevil Urias family with their Motorcycle Globe; the Negrey Troupe of Russian acrobats; “Eccentric Personality” and bicyclist extraordinaire Justin Case; Diana Yedvashkina and her dachshund dog act; and a trio of Asian elephants. The Circus will run on Thursdays through Sundays from June 18th through September 7th. Tickets cost $10-$65.

Thursday, June 18, Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring, Surf Ave and 21st St, Coney Island, 800-745-3000

Justin Case Bicycles through a Ring of Fire in Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

Justin Case Bicycles through a Ring of Fire in Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus. Photo by rbbbconeyisland via flickr

FRIDAY, JUNE 19

Time’s Up First Bicycle Ride of the Season to Coney Island from Manhattan

The group’s “Coney Island Cyclone Ride” goes to Coney Island’s Amusement District from Manhattan and is described as a casual bike ride at a relaxed pace.

This season’s first ride meets on June 19 at 7:00 pm on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge (SW corner of Chambers and Centre St/Park Row) OR 7:25 in Brooklyn at the Carroll St Drawbridge (between Nevins and Bond) OR 7:50 at the 69th St Pier in Brooklyn at the Shore Pkwy bike path entrance (take 68th St). It arrives in time for the fireworks. Upcoming rides are on July 10 and August 21.

Friday, June 19, Time’s Up, NYC’s Direct Action Environmental Organization, timesup@panix.com, 212-802-8222

Brooklyn Cyclones Season Opener and Friday Night Fireworks

Staten Island Yankees vs Brooklyn Cyclones at Keyspan Stadium at 7:00 pm. The first Friday Night Fireworks of the season are at 9:30 pm. The Friday Night Fireworks are sponsored by the Brooklyn Cyclones on 7 nights from June to September. Additional dates of Friday Night Fireworks are sponsored by Carol Albert of the Cyclone Roller Coaster and former Astroland; the Vourderis family of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team. Additional participants in the fireworks include Nathan’s, the Aquarium, the Coney Island Development Corporation, and City Councilman Domenic Recchia’s office. Please show your appreciation for the continuation of this Coney tradition by patronizing the sponsors!

Friday, June 19, Brooklyn Cyclones, Keyspan Stadium, 1904 Surf Avenue, 718-449-8497

SATURDAY, JUNE 20

Coney Island USA’s 2009 Mermaid Parade

Featuring King Neptune Harvey Keitel and Queen Mermaid Daphna, The Uptown String Band from The Philadelphia Mummers Parade, Recording artists They Might Be Giants performing on a float, Monster Truck ‘Blue Thunder’ performing a parade prelude, and performers from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey’s Boom A Ring Circus.

Mermaid Parade, Saturday, June 20th, 2PM! Rain or Shine!

The Mermaid Ball at Dreamland Roller Rink

The Ball will run in two skating sessions: 5:30pm-8:30pm and 9pm-Midnight. Tickets are $20, skate rental $5. DJ Misbehavior, Burlesque and Sideshow performances. Concession stand will be open, alcohol is prohibited.

The first 100 guests who present their ticket stub from the
June 20th 6:30pm Circus benefit for Coney Island USA will get $10 admission to the 9pm skate session.

Mermaid Ball at Dreamland Roller Rink, Boardwalk at 21st St, Coney Island

Amy Winehouse Marches in Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

"Amy Winehouse" Marches in Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

SUNDAY, JUNE 21

Free Exhibition: “Coney Island Icons: The Story Behind the Landmarks of the World’s Playground”

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center is located on Surf Avenue under the Cyclone roller coaster. This season’s featured exhibition uses archival and contemporary photos, documents, anecdotes, interviews, souvenirs and artifacts to tell the story of Coney Island’s four city landmarks — The Cyclone Roller Coaster, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and Childs Building. The exhibition is curated by historian Charles Denson, the author of the book Coney Island:Lost and Found. The exhibition center is open 1:00- 6:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Coney Island History Project, 834 Surf Ave, just east of 10th St, Coney Island, 718- 266-0012

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center under the Cyclone Roller Coaster is open on weekends.  Photo by Coney Island History Project via flickr

The Coney Island History Project’s free public exhibition center under the Cyclone Roller Coaster is open on weekends. Photo by Coney Island History Project via flickr

Roller Dance Skate Classes at Dreamland Roller Rink

The Miss’ile Roller Dance Crew from France will be teaching a dance workshop at Dreamland on Sundays from 3-4:30 p.m. $20 class price includes free admission to Dreamland Discoteque.

Dreamland Roller Rink, Boardwalk at 21st Street, Coney Island, 800-362-5116

Related posts on ATZ...

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

June 7, 2011: Pop Up Piano Returning to Coney Island Boardwalk

April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

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

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