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Archive for August, 2012

Coney Island Fireworks

Electric Eden Revisited: Friday Night Fireworks with Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy

Tonight in Coney Island, the sky will light up with a pyrotechnic display rivaling that of last week’s “Electric Eden Revisited” in this fabulous photo by Bruce Handy. It’s the last Friday night fireworks of the summer and is expected to be spectacular. Best viewing is on the Boardwalk from West 10th to West 12th Streets, on the Wonder Wheel or from Steeplechase Pier.

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May 13, 2012: Coney Island Fireworks 2012: Fridays, 4 Saturdays & July 4th

May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times

April 29, 2012: Photo of the Day: Space Shuttle Over Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

April 22, 2011: Coney Island Has 64 Rides and 30 Weekends of Summer!

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Lighthouse

Lighthouse at Place To Beach Bar, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Coney Island Lighthouse in the gated community of Sea Gate on the Island’s west end isn’t open to the public, but a cute new mini-lighthouse has popped up on the Boardwalk. It’s the beacon atop Zamperla’s PTB bar currently under construction on the Boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue. According to the inscription on the weathervane, “Every Wind Leads to PTB Bar.” Word on the street is that PTB – short for Place to Beach— will serve Tex-Mex food and open next year instead of sometime in the next few weeks. Will it be ready in time to ring in the New Year with the Polar Bear Swim? Who will be the lighthouse keeper?

Located on the former site of Steve’s Grill House and Beer Island, the new addition to Coney’s skyline is adjacent to Scream Zone’s Skycoaster and Go Karts. As we wrote in “Opening Soon? Zipline, Tom’s Coney Island, Place to Beach Bar” (ATZ, August 15, 2012), three Coney Island businesses originally scheduled to open this summer were hoping to get in what’s left of the season. The long-awaited Zipline is completed but still not open due to permitting issues. Tom’s and PTB are still “under construction.” After Labor Day, most of the amusement rides remain open weekends through the end of October. Nathan’s on Surf Avenue, the New York Aquarium and Coney Island Beach Shop are open daily year-round. Among the new or refurbished stores on the Boardwalk, Tom’s Coney Island, Ruby’s Bar and Brooklyn Beach Shop expect to stay open nine months of the year for now, ATZ has learned from the owners.

Coney Island Skyline

PTB Lighthouse Joins the Parachute Jump and Skycoaster on the Coney Island Skyline. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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August 22, 2012: Photo Album: Magic Gyro & Coney Island Gourmet Food

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

August 2, 2012: New Building Breaks Ground Next to Coney Island’s Stillwell Terminal

June 23, 2012: Opening Today: Coney Island Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

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Oh joy! Oh bliss, wait till you see this! We just happened to come across raw footage shot in 1960s and perhaps 1950s Coney Island from the collection of Anthology Film Archives. The first clip titled “Coney Island – Night – Silent work-print” has atmospheric scenes of a grand carousel, amusement games and Nathan’s packed with people. Based on the signage and prizes–games where you can win teddy bears and table lamps for a quarter–the era is the late 1950s or early ’60s. Frankfurters cost 20 cents and knishes and chow mein are 15 cents.

Do you remember the carousel in the clip? It’s not the B&B Carousell, which is returning to Coney Island next year. Historian Charles Denson tells ATZ it looks like a carousel on the Boardwalk at 16th Street that was operated by the McCullough family. It was called the Steeplechase Carousel. In the film, you can actually see “Steeplechase Carousel” lettered on the back of the ride attendant’s shirt. He’s one of the guys with a cigarette dangling from his lips as he straps kids on the horses. Before you say eeewww, remember this was back in the “good old days,” when it was normal for people, especially James Dean-esque ride boys, to chain-smoke. Other clues to the carousel’s identity are the mesmerizing animated figures on the band organ and a bell inscribed 1943.

In the Nathan’s scene, men in white paper hats flip a dozen hot dogs at once and neatly place each order on a silver pedestal cake stand. Condiments are served in a communal bowl! Besides hot dogs, Nathan’s had roast beef, barbecue, chow mein and “crispy pizza.” Are you ready for lunch yet?

The second Coney Island clip is described as unsplit 8mm, color, silent, Summer 1969, from the Bob Parent Collection. We were excited to find rare footage of what appears to be the Flying Saucer in action at Astroland’s Kiddie Park. It was among the first rides in the park, which was “Born at the Dawn of the Space Age.”

The AFA has a large uncatalogued collection of unedited amateur films from Parent, a famed photographer of jazz musicians who also made 8MM films and wrote a column for the movie magazine Take One. What other gems will be discovered in the collection?

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July 26, 2012: Film Trailer: Zipper, Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride

May 12, 2011: “Last Summer at Coney Island” Airs on PBS, DVD Offers Epilogue

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

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