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Archive for April, 2012

Space Shuttle over Coney Island

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

Two icons of American air and space history meet in Eric Kowalsky’s awesome photo of the Space Shuttle Enterprise flying over the Parachute Jump. On Friday, the Coney Island photographer captured the moment when the Space Shuttle flew over Brooklyn’s landmark tower.

Originally designed by retired Naval commander James Hale Strong to train military paratroopers in the 1930s, parachute towers were modified into amusement attractions when civilians clamored to ride. Strong’s Parachute Jump became a popular attraction at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park after moving here from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Though the ride hasn’t been in operation since the park closed in 1964, “Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower” is an official New York City landmark.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise was the first Space Shuttle Orbiter. Named after the fictional Enterprise in “Star Trek,” it was designed to take off like a rocket and land like a plane. The Space Shuttle flew on its own for the first time in 1977 and was retired to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in 1985. Ferried by a jet, the Space Shuttle made a final, 45-minute flight over the Hudson and several New York City landmarks before landing at JFK. Its new home will be the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Manhattan’s West side.

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April 20, 2012: Photo of the Day: Eldorado Auto Skooter Marquee

March 23, 2012: Up for Auction: Coney Island Parachutist Shooting Gallery Target

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

December 15, 2011: Photo of the Day: Friday Night Fireworks from the Pier

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Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island with her dancing cats and her baby doll. West 12th Street. April 1, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

After 14 years on Jones Walk, the windows featuring the life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” have moved to West 12th Street along with Skin the Wire and other whimsical games. Mechanical wonders like Chuckles the Clown and dancing cats can be found there as well. The location is just off the Boardwalk, under Deno’s Wonder Wheel and next to the Coney Island History Project.

“Miss Coney Island” spoke with ATZ–yes, she speaks via twitter!–about the big move and the marvelous makeover that has fans saying she looks 30 years younger. The shimmying mannequin received a complete re-do, including new wig, makeup, manicure, costume, jewelry and music. Her motto remains “Don’t Postpone Joy” and it’s still only “25 cents to fall in LOVE.”

Miss Coney Island

Closeup of Miss Coney Island's Bejeweled Hand. March 23, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

You’d never know it to look at Miss Coney but she is well over 30. We’re not one to give away a woman’s age, but anecdotal evidence suggests the dancing mannequin may be a contemporary of the venerable Grandma’s Predictions, the fortunetelling automaton in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Earlier in her career, “Miss Coney Island” was an Indian Princess automaton at a fairground exhibition, she revealed. “My best friend was ‘Little Egypt.’ After the fair closed, everyone and everything was put up for auction. And here I am.”

The post-modern “Miss Coney Island” is a visual jukebox. This season there’s an emphasis on Doo Wop and Reggae music at Miss Coney’s request. “Most of the songs are oldies that were ‘newies’ when I was young,” she said wistfully. There’s “Little Darlin'” by the Diamonds, “Come Go with Me” by the Del-Vikings and of course “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters.” The song in the video that we made is “This Magic Moment.” While we were there a group of twenty-somethings came over and and started dancing. They kept putting quarters in the machine. Apparently they’d never heard music from the 1950s and ’60s and were enchanted. “What is this music,” they asked. “Where can we buy it?”

The usually silent Miss Coney decided to speak up after a New York tabloid recently dissed Jones Walk as “a longtime seedy strip” and claimed that the City cleared everyone out because it “had been filled with rigged carnival games and ripped off beachgoers for years.” She was furious. “In 14 years on the Walk, nobody but nobody has ever accused me or my friends of being seedy! Win or lose, people left with a smile on their faces,” Miss Coney said.

ATZ can vouch for Miss Coney’s veracity. Having worked games of skill on the Walk, it pained us to see the reputations of all of the concession operators tarnished so casually. There was ONE bad apple among the tenants in the City-owned booths. The majority of the operators were legit and were therefore able to relocate to City-owned or private property in Coney Island.

Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island Meets A Little Miss Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“It costs ’25 cents to fall in LOVE’ and ’25 cents to smile,’ but quarters don’t pay the rent in Coney Island,” according to Miss Coney, who depends on income from Skin the Wire and other $2 games of skill to fund her retirement. Three of the games made the move to 12th Street, but two money-making water games had to be left behind in the dumpster. “We just couldn’t fit them into our new space,” she added sadly.

Be that as it may, Miss Coney Island says “I’m sooo happy with my new location. More people walk by than on the Walk.” Earlier this month, singing sensation Rita Ora, who was in Coney to shoot her new music video, stopped by to pose in front of the windows. “Fingers crossed I’m in the video too,” said the dancing doll, who asked us to mention that she and “Coney Island Always” are available for film and TV shoots. “What I’d really love is a cameo on “30 Rock” and a mention on David Letterman’s Top 10 List.”

Coney Island animated toy window

Coney Island Always, West 12th Street. April 8, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls

December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

July 14, 2009: Miss Coney Island on Jones Walk: 25 Cents to Fall in Love

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B & B Carousell

B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night the Empire State Building was lit up blue and white in honor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was a prelude to this morning’s announcement that New York City has been selected as the location for Partners in Preservation 2012. American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, will award $3 million to preserve historic places in New York City. Coney Island’s B & B Carousell is one of 40 competitors vying for your online vote.

From April 26 through May 21, New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet. According to the initiative’s press release, the top four vote-getters, to be announced May 22, are guaranteed to receive grants for their preservation projects. A Partners in Preservation advisory committee of community and preservation leaders will select sites that will receive the rest of the $3 million in grants.

On May 5 and 6, the Coney Island History Project is hosting a “B & B Carousell Open House” where the first restored horse will be on display along with photos of the restoration process and archival images of the carousel. The historic carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million. The 1919 ride was packed up and moved from its longtime location on the north side of Surf Avenue and sent to Carousels & Carvings in Ohio for restoration.

The Partners in Preservation grant would fund transport and assembly from the restoration in Ohio back to New York. In 2013, the B & B will reopen in a new pavilion next to the Parachute Jump.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

February 26, 2010: Made in Brooklyn: The World’s Only Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

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