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Posts Tagged ‘Jim McDonnell’

Wonder Moon cCney Island

Wonder Moon in Coney Island, March 26, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

One night last March, as Coney Island’s amusement parks stood dark and silent, a full moon peered over the track of the landmark Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel’s “Thrills” sign. Surf Avenue resident and “street photographer” Bruce Handy was taking his daily photo walk with a friend and brought home this exquisite capture. Beginning on Saturday, “A Stroll Through Coney Island Among Friends,” a photo exhibit featuring the work of five Coney Island photographers and friends who take photos of the People’s Playground year-round on a daily or weekly basis will be on view at Coney Island USA.

Bruce Handy, Jim McDonnell, Norman Blake, Kenny Lombardi and Eric Kowalsky are longtime friends of ATZ and contributors to this blog, so we selected five favorite photos from our archive for this post. You should know the work of these local photographers because in contrast to the many world-renowned photographers, occasional visitors and tourists who are drawn here, they know Coney inside out and in all of its seasons.


Rubys Old Tyme Bar and Grill. November 20, 2010. Copyright © Kenny Lombardi 2010. All Rights Reserved

The show’s title should be taken literally as well as metaphorically because these friends are often seen together, cameras in hand, riding the Wonder Wheel at sunset and strolling on the boardwalk and the pier. Bruce Handy and Eric Kowalsky live right across the street from Coney Island’s amusement parks while Jim McDonnell resides a couple of subway stops away. Brooklynites Norman Blake and Kenny Lombardi are official photographers for Coney Island USA, where they take photos of sideshow and burlesque performers and mermaids galore. Norman’s delightfully quirky photos of kite flying on the beach and a sea lion smooch at the Aquarium have appeared on ATZ, as have Kenny’s atmospheric photos of the Boardwalk bars Ruby’s and Cha Cha’s.

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

As members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, Bruce Handy and Jim McDonnell are among the hardy group who go for Sunday swims from November through April. On the Fourth of July back in 2011, Jim took the amazing shot below of Coney’s beach brimming with colorful umbrellas, which calls to mind photos from the 1930s and ’40s of the beach jam-packed with people, sans umbrellas. Among other notable photos of Jim’s that have appeared on ATZ are his heartbreaking set of images shot the day after Superstorm Sandy struck Coney Island. Jim, who works professionally as a footage guru as well as a photographer for Luna Park, has been compiling a summer’s worth of dance moves into “Coney Island Dancing” videos every September since 2010.

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island

Beach Umbrellas in Coney Island. July 4, 2011. Photo © Jim McDonnell via smugmug

Eric Kowalsky, 23, is like a kid brother to the other four photographers, who are in their 40s and 50s. Born and raised in Coney Island, he takes his inspiration from his grandfather Abe Feinstein, who has been documenting Coney Island since he moved to Luna Park Houses with his family in 1962. Among the notable photos by Eric that are posted on ATZ are images of the demolition of Thor Equities-owned Henderson Building and the Bank of Coney Island. On a happier note, two icons of American air and space history meet in Eric’s awesome photo of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flying over the Parachute Jump in 2012.

“A Stroll Through Coney Island Among Friends,” Saturdays and Sundays, February 22 -April 6, 12pm to 5pm. Opening reception on February 22 from noon to 5pm. Coney Island USA Shooting Gallery/Arts Annex, 1214 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Space Shuttle over Coney Island

Space Shuttle Enterprise Flies Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump. April 27, 2012. Photo © Eric Kowalsky. All Rights Reserved


Related posts on ATZ…

December 31, 2013: Amusing the Zillion’s Coney Island 2013 Year in Review

December 9, 2013: Photo Album: First Snow of the Season in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

September 17, 2013: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

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

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Parachute Jump Xmas Lights

Happy Holiday Message on Parachute Jump Lights. Photo © Jim McDonnell

If you want to see Christmas lights, the #1 place to go in the country is the South Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, according to a survey published today by MSN. Coney Island’s amusement area doesn’t have a tradition of Christmas lights since the parks are closed for the winter, but two of its official New York City landmarks are lit for the holidays and free to view.

While the lighted cross atop Deno’s Wonder Wheel has a 68-year history, the Parachute Jump’s light show is brand-new. The Jump’s dazzling 8,000 LEDs debuted in June and have been specially programmed with a “Happy Holidays” message and Christmas-y colors by Luna Park.

Currently, the Jump is lit from around 4:30pm until midnight, and sometimes later. Originally built for the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, the Parachute Jump operated as a ride in Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park until 1964. Today the landmark is known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower. Check the Coney Island webcam to be sure the Jump is lit before you go.

Wonder Wheel Xmas Cross

The annual tradition of putting a lighted cross atop the Wonder Wheel during the Christmas season began in 1945 to mark the end of World War II and the troops return home. During the war years, Coney Island was dark after sundown because of “dim-out” and “blackout” regulations to protect shipping from being silhouetted for the enemy by the glare from the shore. The new LED cross was made by DJ Vourderis, whose family has owned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park for 30 years.

Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company, the Wheel is in operation from Palm Sunday through October. Its cars are removed for the winter and put back up in the spring prior to Opening Day. From the 1980s until neighboring Astroland Park closed in 2008, the Wonder Wheel’s Christmas cross had a counterpart in the Astrotower’s lighted Star of David.

In this lyrical video by Jim McDonnell, who also took the beautiful photos in this post, you can see the cross being raised on Friday when warm temps finally melted the ice on the Wheel, allowing it to be turned. The cross remains atop the Wheel until around January 6.


Related posts on ATZ…

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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

March 19, 2013: First Sign of Spring in Coney: Cars Go up on Wonder Wheel

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

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Rescue boats and crane

Rescue boats and crane coming to aid of sunken barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island. April 14, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Sunday morning, a flotilla of rescue boats and barges were in the water east of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier where a construction barge and a Vergona crawler crane sank yesterday. Today’s efforts were focused on trying to remove the barge from the pier. The sunken equipment had been brought to the site a few days ago, where Triton Construction is doing repairs. The 1000-foot Steeplechase Pier was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. On Friday, the pier was swarming with workers, all wearing harnesses. By Friday night the construction barge began to list.

The above photo of the rescue craft was shot this morning by Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who said the big crane is twice the size of the sunken one. The dramatic photographs below of the sinking barge were taken on Saturday morning by Jim McDonnell, whose news-breaking photos ATZ posted yesterday in “Sinking Barge at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier.”

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier

Sinking Barge and Crane at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

According to NY1, the Coast Guard says the fire department had contractors unload fuel from the barge and there were no leaks. The barge’s owner is reponsible for coming up with a plan for salvaging it. We hope this is resolved quickly and doesn’t delay the reconstruction of the pier, which was scheduled to be completed by July 4th.

UPDATE April 24, 2013

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13: “Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update”, ATZ, April 24, 2013

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier,

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell


Related posts on ATZ…

March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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