Archive for January, 2011

Now that Coney Island is slated to lose its funky Boardwalk attractions, this old school vid from 1982 seems especially apropos. Thanks to ModernJim, one of our readers, for sending us the link. “The Clash’s video for ‘Overpowered by Funk’ has a lot of Coney Island in it,” he writes. Sure does. You’ll catch sight of Coney’s vanished Trabant as well as a Himi and lots of games and their operators: basketball, derby race, dunk tank, even Astroland’s shooting gallery. The video winds up at the Eldorado’s “Bump Your Ass Off” Bumper cars where Mick Jones buys a ticket to ride. Watch for the dancing girl in red and her cotton candy mom. Funkpower over and out!


Related posts on ATZ…

March 15, 2011: Hail, Hail Garland Jeffreys! Coney Island Has a New Anthem

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

August 27, 2010: Video: Coney Island Dancing by Jim McDonnell

July 19, 2009: Coney Island Hip-Hop Anthem: AMO1’s Fight for Your Right to Save Coney

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Coney Island Colorado

Coney Island Colorado Diner, Bailey, CO. Photo © RoadsideArchitecture.com

November 8, 2015: The Coney Island Boardwalk Hot Dog restaurant in Bailey, Colorado, is up for sale again! The asking price is triple what it was in 2011. Scroll down for update…

Hey, wanna buy the Coney Island Boardwalk? The historic hot-dog shaped “Coney Island Boardwalk” diner, in Bailey, Colorado, is being offered for sale by its owner. It’s all yours, including stucco bun and mustard and relish toppings, for just $499K. According to the listing, the bun is 35 feet long and the hot dog 42 feet. Made of concrete-and-steel, this fine example of novelty architecture weighs a hefty 18 tons. But the buyer will have to move the 1960’s eatery from its current location on the South Platte River about 30 miles southwest of Denver.

Inside the Hot Dog

Inside the Hot Dog. Photo © themickeyd/RonMcdonald via flickr

“Truly my dream was to have a beautiful location,” said Ron Aigner, the diner’s owner, in a phone interview with ATZ. “Now I can’t even walk the dog.” Left disabled with a broken back after an altercation with local authorities, Aigner closed the diner and advertised it for sale. Aigner told ATZ he wouldn’t mind if somebody bought the diner and moved it from Colorado to the original Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York! Now that would be an unusual move: New York City has been losing its historic diners since the Moondance was sold to new owners in Wyoming and the Cheyenne went to Alabama.

Once Coloradans find out about the listing, we think they’ll rally to save their Coney Island, which was built in Denver in 1966. Its designer Marcus Shannon of Lakewood, Colorado, planned a chain of hot dog diners and filed a patent for the design in 1965. The eatery was originally located on West Colfax in Denver. Since 1970, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been on scenic US Highway 285, first in Aspen Park and then in Bailey.

The building has been hailed as “the best example of roadside architecture in the state” by Thomas J. Noel, a Professor of History and Director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies at the University of Colorado. In reply to ATZ’s email, Noel (aka “Dr. Colorado”) wrote: “We Coloradans should rally to save one of our greatest culinary landmarks, a most delicious morsel of pop roadside art. Hot Dog! Don’t let the Coney Island die.”

Under the Dog

Under the Dog. Photo © themickeyd/RonMcdonald via flickr

The delightful interior of the hot dog, which was lovingly restored, includes two booths and a diminutive counter with a few stools. “I moved it and renovated it. It does a huge business,” says Aigner, who offered to provide sales figures to prospective buyers. “I put out about 20 to 30 tables for people to sit by the river.” Indeed, restaurant reviewers mention an hour-long wait for a wiener during the busy summer season, though they say it was worth it for the Chicago-style dog. But Aigner says the location was not suited for year-round business: “We’re on the road to Breckinridge. It’s the second busiest highway, but not the ski traffic highway.”

The first photo in this post was taken by our friend RoadsideNut, a New Yorker who has extensively documented America’s roadside architecture on her website. Check out the Burgers and Hot Dogs page, where the Coney Island in Colorado appears along with Top Dog, Giant Burger and other architectural wonders.

UPDATE November 8, 2015:

The Coney Island Boardwalk Hot Dog restaurant in Bailey, Colorado, is up for sale again! According to a local news report, owner Ron Aigner is retiring and has listed the property for $1,495,000. Broker Jim Urban has posted a video tour on YouTube:

UPDATE August 14, 2011:

ATZ is happy to report that the diner reopened for the summer. The person whom we spoke with on the phone was unable to confirm fall/winter hours. Call in advance. A Yelper reports that the elk dogs are terrific. The diner’s address is 10 Old Stagecoach Rd, Bailey, CO 80421. Phone (303) 838-4210.

Before Renovation: The Coney Island Hotdog Stand, seen here in Aspen Park, CO, before it was sold and moved to Bailey, CO in March 2006. August 16, 2005. Photo © mrivorey/Chris Moody via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

December 4, 2010: Artifact of the Day: Vintage Coffee Cup from Childs Restaurant

November 21, 2010: Goodbye (Or Maybe Not?) to My Coney Island Equivalent of Proust’s Madeleine

October 17, 2010: Coney Island to Get Flying Coaster from Denver’s Elitch Gardens

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

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Snowmen at Dawn on Coney Island Boardwalk. January 27, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via Android

When Coney Island photographer and resident Bruce Handy ventured onto the snow-laden Boardwalk at dawn, he was greeted by these two primitive snowmen. This month is now the snowiest January in New York City history, according to AccuWeather.com. The snow total for yesterday and today is 19 inches! If you’re heading out to Coney to take photos, be on the lookout for Polar Bears: Tom “Iceman” McGann says “snow swim = Thursday noon at Stillwell”!


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Historian Charles Denson’s “Coney Island: Secrets of the Universe” is both eloquent and enigmatic. When the six-minute short premiered at the Coney Island Film Festival in September, the program notes read: “Coney’s iconic cosmology comes into play when a mysterious crypto-governmental force seeks domination of the island. Secrets of the Universe probes Coney Island’s hyper-mythological role in fantasy, neo-symbolism, and the infinite!”

At the film fest screening, someone asked us if the opening scenes of the Marine helicopters landing on Coney Island’s beach were real. Yes, indeed! Gorgeous shots of the Astroland Rocket and Burger Boy atop Gregory and Paul’s (now Paul’s Daughter) roof, Astroland, the Astrotower, Wonder Wheel and Parachute Jump are prominently featured. We’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to decipher the secrets of this universe.


Related posts on ATZ…

August 27, 2012: Video of the Day: Raw Footage of 1960s Coney Island

January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

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Henderson Music Hall Cats, Coney Island. January 22, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

In September, ATZ wrote about a gray cat who was the last tenant of Thor Equities-owned Henderson Building after the humans had been evicted. We soon realized the cat was part of a colony of similar looking gray cats living in the former music hall.

There’s a contingent of cat lovers who put out food and water for them and the rest of Coney Island’s feral, stray and abandoned cat population. Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy took this picture on Saturday. Now that the building has been demolished, the Henderson Music Hall cats are homeless. Where will they find shelter on this snowy day in Coney Island?

For info on helping feral cats, visit the websites of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative and the Toby Project. Last year, the Toby Project was one of the few animal rescue groups performing spay/neuters of feral cats in Coney Island.


Related Posts on ATZ…

September 24, 2010: Coney Island Cat Is Last Tenant of Henderson Building

September 6, 2010: Cutie & Patootie: Coney Island Kittens Up for Adoption!

May 6, 2010: R.I.P. Targette, the Coney Island Arcade Cat’s Shy Sister

January 27, 2010: I Love NYC Pets Month Preview: Coney Island Cat Rescue

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When Coney Island’s now demolished Henderson Music Hall was subjected to “pre-demolition” work in October, we shuddered at the destruction to come and said it was time to start planning a New Orleans style funeral. As it turns out, James Demaria, a New York filmmaker with strong ties to New Orleans, is planning a traditional “Jazz Funeral for Coney Island” on Sunday April 3, 2011.

The event is currently seeking angels on Kickstarter, the popular funding platform for artists, filmmakers and other creative types. With 23 backers and 25 days left to go, the project currently has pledges of $1,015 towards its $3,000 goal. “Our Jazz Funeral and Second Line Parade will say goodbye to the old and express our hopes for the rebirth,” says Demaria, who staged a “Second Line” over the Brooklyn Bridge last year on the same date. Following the funeral parade to dance along with the music is called “second lining.” These joyous parades have been called “the quintessential New Orleans art.”

The April 3rd event in Coney Island will feature a New Orleans style brass band, horse and carriage for the symbolic coffin, and Darryl “DancingMan504” Young leading the way. The group will stroll down Coney’s Stillwell Avenue in a somber march. But when the procession nears the Boardwalk, says Demaria, “it’s time for the dead to be reborn. From that point we will ‘Second Line’ and dance until we can’t dance no more.”

According to Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing rules, the project must be fully funded before its time expires on Saturday, February 19, to receive any funds.  The minimum pledge is just $5.00.  Pledges of $200 will receive a limited edition framed photo from the event. Pledges of $500 will receive a Second Line dance lesson by DancingMan504, with whom you will lead the parade. Here’s the project’s page on Kickstarter.

“Coney has always been one of my haunts and I feel that both places have a similar aura. NOLA and NYC for that matter,” DeMaria tells ATZ. He says the project is part of his mission of keeping the Second Line culture alive. The New York City-based photographer is currently working on a series of films and photo stories with the musicians of New Orleans and plans to film the event. “Coney Island USA is behind us to help secure the permits. Jambalaya Brass Band out of New York City will be playing along with some New Orleans musicians who are flying up for the event,” Demaria says.

“In turn, we will use the footage to help shine a light on DancingMan’s charitable program, ‘Heal To Toe.’ Since Hurricane Katrina, Darryl has been using his gift of dance to inspire and motivate the kids of New Orleans. He helps them get in shape and instills a sense of pride in their culture that was almost destroyed in 2005.”


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Toothpick Holder: Souvenir of Henderson's Music Hall & Restaurant, Coney Island. Late 1800

When Henry M. Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1909, his obituary said “Mr. Henderson bought property in Coney Island thirty years ago and started one of the first amusement places. He acquired a large fortune and the family now owns all of the property between Henderson’s Walk and Stratton Walk, extending from Surf Avenue to the sea.” Henderson’s establishment began as a restaurant at Bowery and Henderson Walk in 1881. His son Frederick managed the family’s Coney Island empire, which included a music hall featuring vaudeville acts and a bathing pavilion at the foot of Sea Beach Walk.

After we wrote about a vintage coffee cup from Childs Restaurant last month, a reader sent us this photo of a toothpick holder from Henderson’s. Lisa Ramaci collects memorabilia of early New York, including chinaware and utensils from restaurants and hotels.  “You will see it was broken at some point in its past – I picked it up for a quarter probably 20 years ago in a small antique store in Manhattan,” Ramaci told ATZ.  “They had a ‘jumble’ table in front with stuff they considered valueless. Little did they know that even in the condition it’s in I consider it a treasure. Anyway, hope you enjoy it, only wish I could have eaten there – and at Childs!”

Made in Austria

Made in Austria for J. R. Gibney: Souvenir of Henderson’s Music Hall & Restaurant, Coney Island. Late 1800

The souvenir made in Austria for J. R. Gibney is indeed a rare find.  We’ve seen only one other example. The auction info site worthpoint has photos of a Henderson’s toothpick holder that sold for $115.49 on eBay in 2009. It appears to be in very good condition. But we find it poignant that Lisa’s souvenir of Henderson’s was so carefully mended after having been broken. “It obviously meant something sentimental to whoever stole it from the restaurant way back when,” she says. “A great example of an earlier time, when things were repaired and re-used rather than thrown out and replaced. And thank God for that!”

Sadly, the last remnant of Coney pioneer Henry Henderson’s empire isn’t being rehabbed and re-used.  The building is currently being demolished by Thor Equities. On Friday there was one wall left standing. Henderson’s will be gone in a couple of days. A few weeks ago we posted Charles Denson’s video tribute to the Henderson Theater. In lieu of an obituary, we decided to write about the survival of this humble but treasured memento.

For more info on the history of the building, see “Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall” (ATZ, April 29, 2010).

UPDATE 3:20 pm

RIP Henderson Music Hall. Just got word the last wall of this historic Coney Island building was demolished this afternoon. Bad things have happened in threes in Thor’s Coney Island over the past few months: The demolition of the Bank of Coney Island, the Shore Hotel, and finally the Henderson Music Hall. Now when tourists exit Stillwell Terminal, their first sight of Coney Island will be one of Thor Equities infamous empty lots!

Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection

Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection


Related posts on ATZ…

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

December 4, 2010: Artifact of the Day: Vintage Coffee Cup from Childs Restaurant

November 16, 2009: Rare & Vintage: Coney Island Sideshow Banner by Dan Casola

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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