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Posts Tagged ‘Steeplechase Park’

This week, British Pathé announced the release of more than 85,000 newsreels from its archives to the public via YouTube. Among the films dating from the early 20th century though the 1970s are several documenting Coney Island. “Let’s Go Coney! Island” (1932) was shot inside Steeplechase Park’s Pavilion of Fun and provides a glimpse of patrons riding the Hoopla, Human Pool Table and Panama Slide. At Luna Park, Victor Zacchini, “The Human Cannonball,” is seen being shot from a cannon across the park’s lagoon as part of the season’s outdoor show.

Other newsreels show riders on the Witching Waves (1919) and the residents of New York Aquarium eating a “Whale Of A Lunch” (1964). (Update: We removed one of the films, Dizzy-Dive Land (1932) which is mis-ID’d as a Coney Island coaster but turns out to be Rye Playland’s Aeroplane (1923-1957), according to American Coaster Enthusiasts co-founder and historian Richard Munch.)

While the British Pathé archive is available online via their own website, going public on YouTube allows viewers to comment, share and embed the historic videos.

“The archive contains unique footage from both World Wars, the Titanic, boxing legend Muhammed Ali and more,” said British Pathé and Mediakraft Networks in a press release. “On top of this startling content, the material also paints vivid pictures of almost forgotten lifestyles, peculiar technical inventions and everyday life that British Pathé presented in newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1976.”

In “Do You Reverse” (1928), couples slide down a water chute together into Steeplechase Pool. Camera trickery is used to show this in reverse. Divers are also seen jumping out of the water and back onto boards.

Dorothy de Mar wins the title of Miss Venus from hundreds of other bathing beauties at Steeplechase Park in “Is She Your Choice?” (1931).

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Steeplechase Pier

Repairing Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Yesterday in Coney Island, for the first time we saw repair work being done on the Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier. The 1,000-foot-pier is a popular spot for fishing and for watching the Friday night fireworks, which begin on June 21st. In the past, it was also a favorite place for pier divers, who defied the “No Diving” signs for the thrill of the jump.

ATZ asked one of the workers when the pier would be open again. “We hope to have it open by July,” he said. When more info is available from the Parks Department we’ll post an update. Along with the Parachute Jump, which will be the centerpiece of the new Steeplechase Plaza, the rebuilt pier is a survivor of George C Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park.

UPDATE 4:17pm

ATZ received an email from Meghan Lalor of the Parks Department Press Office confirming the above info: “The entire Steeplechase Pier is being reconstructed. We expect to complete construction by July 4.” Yay and Hooray! Excited the pier will be open for fireworks watching for most of the summer. (Work was still underway on the pier as of Labor Day.)

UPDATE October 1, 2013

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk that Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier would reopen today, Oct 1, almost but not quite true. After it’s inspected, sometime in October, a Parks Department spokesman tells ATZ. Soon!
Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier to Reopen in October, ATZ, September 30, 2103

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Steeplechase Mural

Steeplechase Mural by Bonnie Siracusa, Mermaid Avenue Post Office, Coney Island. Photo by AmusingtheZillion.com

When Coney Island’s amusement area had a U.S. Post Office on Surf Avenue in Steeplechase Park, visitors mailed hundreds of thousands of postcards from the World’s Playground. Steeplechase closed in 1964 but Coney Island’s post office on Mermaid Avenue at 28th Street is worth a trip. It’s a bit of a hike from the amusement area but the interior is decorated with murals of Steeplechase, the Funny Place by artist Bonnie Siracusa. The Human Roulette Wheel, Parachute Jump and Pavilion of Fun are among the subjects along with the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone.

Detail of Steeplechase Mural by Bonnie Siracusa, Mermaid Avenue Post Office, Coney Island. Photo by AmusingtheZillion.com

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