About these ads
Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Central Amusement International’

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump Lit at Dusk. October 17, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

When the Parachute Jump’s dazzling new 8,000 LEDs debuted in June, Luna Park CEO Valerio Ferrari told ATZ the tower would be lit whenever the park was open. One of the things we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving is that after the park closed for the season at the end of October, the landmark tower’s light show has continued nightly. Photographers are jumping for joy. Coney Island’s Bruce Handy, whose photos are featured in this album, shoots the lighted Jump almost as frequently as he does sunsets.

Although there’s been no official announcement from the Parks Department or Luna Park, the unofficial word on the Boardwalk is the Jump is going to be lit year-round. This is exactly right considering the City’s stated goal ever since Mayor Bloomberg announced the Strategic Plan for the Future of Coney Island in 2005 has been to “transform the area into a year-round entertainment destination.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

The Parachute Jump lights the way to Coney Island for visitors. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower is visible from as far away as the Verrazano Bridge on the Belt Parkway. You can spot it from planes flying in and out of JFK. One of Bruce’s friends has taken photos of the Jump lights from his 37th floor of his office in lower Manhattan. “I also see it from the 71st St elevated D train platform,” says Bruce. “I’m sure it’s visible from the cruise ships leaving NY harbor every night and returning every morning at sunrise.” Currently, the Parachute Jump is lit nightly from 4:30pm until midnight or later (with the exception of random days when its timer is on the blink). Here’s hoping the Jump will remain lit year-round like the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam before you go.

Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, Coney Island’s world-famous amusement park, which closed forever in 1964. The pier and the Jump tower are the sole survivors of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.”

Coney Island Parachute Jump

Coney Island Parachute Jump from Steeplechase Pier. November 4, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

October 30, 2013: Photo Album: Four Transformations, One Year After Sandy

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

June 21, 2013: Photo Album: Preview of Parachute Jump LED Lights

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

About these ads

Read Full Post »

Jones Walk

Long-shuttered storefronts on Thor Equities side of Jones Walk. Luna Park games on City-owned land on the Walk’s east side. June 21, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

With Mayor Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia and other electeds responsible for the rezoning of Coney Island leaving office in 120 days, and their would-be successors campaigning for the September 10th Primary, it’s time to look at the City’s accomplishments in Coney Island and what has yet to be done. The New Coney Island. We’ll also take a look at some of the casualties as well as some of the survivors of the July 2009 rezoning. ATZ hopes to cover these topics in a series of posts over the next couple of months.

Let’s start with the Surf Avenue side of Jones Walk, the last of Coney Island’s historic walks. Before Thor, it used to be a vibrant and authentic place, a midway of midways. Now “the Walk” looks like a victim of a split personality disorder. The City-owned east side of Jones Walk, re-activated by Luna Park with cute carnival games and a few food stands, and Thor Equities-owned west side, vacant since 2009, offers a stark contrast between Coney’s largest property owners. While the City has brought in replacement amusements, Thor–whose slogan for a time was “Coney Island, Retail Ride of a Lifetime”– has gotten rid of amusements.

Stinky Feet Water Race Game

Luna Park’s Stinky Feet Water Race Game, Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

You’d never know from looking at it, but the building on the west corner of the Walk is Coney Island’s oldest, the circa 1880s Grashorn Building. Originally Henry Grashorn’s hardware store, the building later housed shooting galleries, arcades, and cotton candy and taffy stands. Now it’s a victim of the continuing decimation of the amusement area by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. The Grashorn building fronts Surf Avenue and extends along the west side of the walk, yet this location has remained vacant and devoid of activity for five seasons. WHY? A business owner who had leased a small stand on the Walk from Thor in 2008 told us in 2009 that the rent had tripled from $8,000 to $24,000. He declined the space and left Coney Island, never to return.

Grashorn

Thor Equities Vacant & Shuttered Grashorn Building. August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Since then, the Grashorn has fallen victim to squatters, blight and burst water pipes. A parade of sideshow operators and arcade owners tried but failed to lease the Jones Walk space from Thor. The only use that it has seen since we started blogging in 2009 was as a set for HBO’s Bored to Death (2011) and an office for the production company filming Men in Black 3 (2012).

Meanwhile, on the east side of the walk are carnival games, including the comical “Stinky Feet” water race, newly installed this year by Luna Park on property leased by the City to Zamperla in 2012. The city displaced independent operators with an RFP for a single operator to renovate and re-activate the property. The result was a few unsavory operators got the boot while the good guys relocated to City-owned or private property elsewhere in Coney.

We’re lucky the Grashorn Building is still standing. Unlike the Bank of Coney Island, the Surf Hotel and the Henderson Building, which Sitt demolished, the Grashorn parcel at Surf Ave and Jones Walk was not rezoned by the City for a 30-story high rise hotel. There’s also the fact that the building is just a few doors away from Luna Park’s entrance. And there’s also the fact the City owns the east side of Jones Walk. The demolition of the Grashorn would have created a desolate empty lot right next to the City’s showcase amusement park and completely killed business on the Walk.

 New Games on Jones Walk

Luna Park’s New Games on Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In Coney Island: Lost and Found, historian Charles Denson writes that the building at 1104 Surf dates back to the 1880’s and the Grashorn hardware store served Coney Island’s amusement businesses for more than 60 years: “The clapboard façade, dormers, cast iron resting, chimneys and fish-scale shingles were removed when the building was renovated in the 1980s but the mansard roof retains its shape.”

What will be the fate of Coney Island’s historic Jones Walk and its oldest building under the next administration? Will Thor Equities’ property remain vacant? Will it be sold? Will Joe Sitt seek a zoning variance from the next administration for this property or for any of his vacant lots? To be continued…

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Share

Related posts on ATZ…

June 18, 2013: Thor’s Coney Island: Shoe Store Invades Amusement Area

December 19, 2012: Will Coney Island’s Surf Ave Become a Mecca for Franchises?

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

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

Read Full Post »

Parachute Jump Lighting Tes

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Friday night in Coney Island, the landmark Parachute Jump will be lit with 8,000 LED lights. Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower will have enough bling to be visible from outer space, advance reports claim. The lighting was installed by Zamperla’s Central Amusements International, which operates Luna Park. Last night, the crowd on the Boardwalk was treated to a dazzling preview of the light show and Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy took this series of photos. “Parachute Jump vibrating to the beat of mermaid’s soul vibrations,” he said, in anticipation of Saturday’s Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Originally designed by a retired Naval commander to train military paratroopers in the 1930s, parachute towers were soon modified into amusement attractions when civilians clamored to ride. Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase, the world-famous amusement park that opened on Coney’s fabled shore in 1897.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Along with the pier, the Jump’s tower is the sole survivor of the park that once billed itself “Coney Island’s Only Funny Place, Where 25,000 People Laugh at One Time.” The city-owned landmark’s proximity to the Brooklyn Cyclones’ stadium gave it a new lease on life when the ballpark opened in 2001.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Summer officially arrives this weekend. Friday night’s lighting ceremony will be followed by Coney Island’s first fireworks show of the 2013 season and Saturday’s 31st Annual Mermaid Parade.

Parachute Jump Lighting Test

Parachute Jump Lighting Test, Coney Island. June 20, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ…

June 4, 2013: Coney Island Fireworks 2013: Fridays, 6 Saturdays and More

May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

April 29, 2012: Photo of the Day: Space Shuttle Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 269 other followers