It’s still painful to look at photos taken in the days after Sandy. On the one year anniversary, from the many photos posted on ATZ over the past year, we’re highlighting four public amenities and amusement park icons in Coney Island which were ravaged by the storm. The four were not only rebuilt but have also undergone a dramatic transformation from the way they looked before Sandy. On October 30, 2012, photographer Jim McDonnell took the first photos that we saw of damage in Coney’s amusement area, including the heartbreaking photograph above of Steeplechase Pier. The 1,040-foot-pier, a popular spot for strolling, sunbathing, fishing and watching the fireworks, finally reopened on October 2nd after several months of reconstruction by T.B. Penick and Triton Structural.
The sleek new pier, as photographed by Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project, is light years ahead of the pier that preceded it. Originally built by George Tilyou in 1904 as part of his Steeplechase Park, the pier was later acquired by the City of New York City and had to be rebuilt in the late 1950s after a fire.
A waved-shaped communal lounger and benches made from reclaimed ipe from the pier’s old decking are among the new amenities. There’s also a shade structure with letters spelling out CONEY ISLAND that cast an elegant shadow. LTL Architects redesign for the reconstruction of the pier won Special Recognition at the 31st Annual Awards for Excellence in Design by the New York City Design Commission.
Nearly a year after being wrecked by Sandy, the Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library reopened on October 23rd after a $2.5 million rebuilding effort. The interior has been completely transformed by Beatty Harvey Coco Architects, a firm which specializes in libraries. Huge photos of Coney Island’s landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump decorate the walls. Photos of the redesigned library, including new furniture, computer stations and meeting rooms can be seen in “Photo Album: Coney Island Library’s Comeback from Sandy,” (ATZ, October 24, 2013)
The venerable, circa 1923 “Grandma’s Predictions” has been telling fortunes under Coney Island’s 1920 Wonder Wheel all her life. Her inner workings were destroyed by floodwater from Sandy. Grandma, an irreplaceable antique as well as a good luck charm for the Vourderis family who own Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, was taken to arcade restorer Bob Yorburg’s studio in Putnam County for some TLC.
The rare fortunetelling machine got eye surgery as well as a new wig, dress and wax hands cast from the original mold. A fine new cabinet was hand-crafted based on the design of one from the 1920s. Her motto “What does Grandma Say?”was hand-lettered in gold leaf. Grandma returned to her spot under the Wonder Wheel on Mother’s Day. Get your fortune told — only 50 cents!
One of the casualties of Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area was Denny’s Ice Cream, established in 1978 and owned by Coney Island USA. The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ building next door to CIUSA’s headquarters in 2011 for $1.3 million with the idea of eventually expanding their arts space. In the meantime, they kept the beloved ice cream shop open, serving banana pistachio cones and other popular treats until the store fixtures were destroyed by Sandy. Since the building had to be gutted, the future renovations had to happen in time for the 2013 season. What to do?
The idea of installing and restoring this 1940s Mangels shooting gallery on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park came up when it had to be moved during the park’s renovations after the storm. The gallery was manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, and the builder of the mechanism for the B & B Carousell. Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually to collectors. The Shooting Gallery’s Arts Annex hosts sideshow performances and this year’s Creep Show at the Freak Show, which continues through October 31.
Related posts on ATZ…
May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island
March 5, 2013: Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue Four Months After Sandy
November 21, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Flooded Spook-A-Rama to Get New Stunts
October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island