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Archive for May, 2013

Temporary lights on the Boardwalk

Temporary lights are currently in use on the Boardwalk in Coney Island’s amusement district. April 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Let there be light at night on the Boardwalk! On Wednesday, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced over $1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs to lighting along the Coney Island Boardwalk. The Boardwalk’s distinctive twin cast iron light poles, which were installed with $1.2 million allocated in 2004, have not been operational since Sandy. Portable trailer-mounted lighting units were brought in earlier this year.

According to a news release, FEMA will provide $1,220,599 in federal funding to the NYC Department of Transportation for the repairs of the street lighting system serving the Coney Island Boardwalk’s 122 ornamental light poles.

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day Ceremonies, March 24, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr

“Coney Island’s much-loved boardwalk was seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy, including its lighting system,” said Schumer. “This federal funding will get the lights back on, just in time for summer, and make sure that New York City residents are not on the hook entirely for these expenses.”

“The iconic Coney Island boardwalk was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, with its street lighting completely destroyed,” Gillibrand said. “This necessary reimbursement is an important step as we continue to meet New York’s needs to recover and rebuild.”

Coney Island’s rides and the majority of the businesses in the amusement area opened for the season on Palm Sunday. Nathan’s on Surf Avenue, Coney Island USA and the New York Aquarium reopened on Memorial Day Weekend. New construction and post-Sandy renovations are still underway. In April’s photo album, ATZ focused on Steeplechase Pier, Steeplechase Plaza and the Boardwalk, and the Applebee’s on the north side of Surf Avenue. In May’s construction update, we looked at the south side of Surf Avenue and Jones Walk.

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May 24, 2013: Photo Album: B&B Carousell’s Showy Letters Go Up

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 17, 2013: Sandy-Damaged Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Coney Island to Reopen in 2 Weeks

March 4, 2013: Nathan’s on Coney Island Boardwalk to Open Mid-March, Surf Ave by May

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Little Fugitive, the 1953 classic about a 7-year-old boy who spends 24 hours on the lam in Coney Island, returns to Coney on July 1st to open the 3rd Annual Coney Island Flicks on the Beach. This year is the 60th anniversary of the film, which won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and influenced the French New Wave. “My Dad used to say his veins were full of sand from Coney Island,” said Mary Engel of her film-maker father Morris Engel at a screening of the new 35MM print at Film Forum earlier this year.

Also screening at this year’s Flicks on the Beach are Bending Steel, a documentary which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and Men in Black III starring Will Smith and Josh Brolin. Both movies feature scenes shot in Coney Island. Here is the complete schedule for this summer’s Coney Island Flicks on the Beach:

July 1: Little Fugitive, 60th Anniversary (rained out, rescheduled for August 27)
July 8: Bending Steel, in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival
July 15: The Hunger Games
July 22: Wreck it Ralph (rained out, rescheduled for Sept 3)
July 29: Men in Black III
August 5: The Avengers
August 12: Fame
August 19: 42
August 27: Little Fugitive (rescheduled for a Tuesday night due to rain on July 1)
Sept. 3: Wreck It Ralph (rescheduled for a Tuesday night due to rain on July 22)

The Monday night beachside film series is a free event sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island together with Rooftop Films and NYC & Co. Pre-show entertainment begins at dusk on the beach near West 10th Street.

Coney Island Flicks on the Beach

Pre-show entertainment at Coney Island Flicks on the Beach. July 12, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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February 2, 2013: A Coney Island Classic: 60th Anniversary of “Little Fugitive”

December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

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

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

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Stinky Feet Water Race Game

Luna Park’s Stinky Feet Water Race Game, Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

People walking along Surf Avenue near Luna Park are apt to do a double-take when they pass Jones Walk. Six toilet seats have been bolted into the pavement in front of the first concession booth! Insert joke about Coney Island’s new, very public restrooms here. The row of open-air loos could easily be mistaken for the real thing but the toilet lids don’t open. The new fixtures are part of Stinky Feet, a multi-target water-race game with guns that are replicas of bathtub faucets and seats that look like toilets. The game opened on Jones Walk over Memorial Day Weekend. Here’s a video that we made of the water race in action:

Manufactured by Whac-A-Mole creator Bob’s Space Racers, Stinky Feet has been a big hit at amusement parks since it debuted three years ago. The game is one of several family-friendly new games installed by Luna Park on the east side of Jones Walk, where last year’s attractions were destroyed by flood waters from Superstorm Sandy.

 New Games on Jones Walk

Luna Park’s New Games on Jones Walk. Coney Island. May 27, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The lead horse on the beautifully restored and just reopened B&B Carousell is a rare steed. Sumptuous detailing on its trappings includes a relief of Abe Lincoln and the Coney Island carver‘s signature “Built by MC Illions.” According to carousel historian Marianne Stevens, the horse was carved in 1909, the same year the Lincoln penny was issued, in honor of the Centennial of Lincoln’s birth. It was one of four Lincoln horses carved by Illions for various carousels and the only one remaining on a working carousel. Stevens says the other jumper is on display at the New England Carousel Museum and the whereabouts of the two standers is unknown.

Lead Horse B & B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24,2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The horse is the only one of the B&B’s 50 horses carved by Illions, who developed the Coney Island style of carving. The rest are the work of Charles Carmel, another master carousel carver who also emigrated from Russia and worked in Brooklyn. How did the Illions horse come to be part of the B&B Carousell? It is thanks to Jimmy McCullough, whose family operated four historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in New York City’s parks.

One of them was the Stubbmann Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk. It was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park. When the Stubbman closed, James McCullough and his son Jimmy each chose a horse to keep, according to Stevens. Jimmy chose the Lincoln jumper which is now on the B&B, a carousel that he operated since the 1970s and sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Saltzstein.

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The other Coney Island carousels that are part of the McCullough legacy are the 1908 Stein and Goldstein Carousel brought to Central Park from the trolley terminal at W 5th and Surf Avenue and the 1912 Charles Carmel Carousel in Prospect Park that operated at 8th Street and Surf. Last year, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, the family’s last remaining business in Coney Island, closed after a 50 year run.

Thanks to Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, and Luna Park, which operates the B&B Carousell in the new Steeplechase Plaza, for their photos of the MC Illions horse.

Lead Horse on B&B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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May 24, 2013: Photo Album: B&B Carousell’s Showy Letters Go Up

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

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

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The Wheel House is a delightful diversion from today’s rainy start to the Memorial Day weekend. UK-based circus theater Acrojou’s rolling house is powered by actors who call to mind the folksong “I’m away with the raggle taggle gypsy-o!” Architizer calls it “A Wheel-Shaped Mobile Home For Acrobats.” The troupe has performed The Wheel House in Ireland, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain and Israel, and in the Piccadilly Circus Circus at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

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B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

The large-scale neon letters spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course, went up on the historic ride’s new pavilion on the Boardwalk today. Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project happened to be there to take this spectacular series of photographs. On Friday morning, the grand opening of Steeplechase Plaza and the return of the 1919 carousel to Coney Island will be celebrated by Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, local residents and invited guests. The carousel was saved from the auction block in 2005, when the Mayor came to Coney Island for a hastily arranged press conference to announce the City would purchase the ride for $1.8 million.

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

“Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B&B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back,” said Denson, when the first restored horse was exhibited last May at the Coney Island History Project. B&B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel except for the lead horse by M.C. Illions. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s. Welcome home to the B&B!

B&B Carousell Pavilion

B&B Carousell Pavilion. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

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May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

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Girl to Gorilla Show

Detail of Girl to Gorilla Showfront by Lew Stamm for 4C Productions Coming to State Fair Meadowlands

“Beauty or Beast? SEE the only LIVING woman with this Mysterious and Unknown Ability…Alive…The Ape Girl.” Jack Constantine’s Girl to Gorilla Show is coming to New Jersey’s State Fair Meadowlands, which opens on June 21 for a 17-day run. It’s the first time since 1996 that his Four C Productions is bringing it out. Just a couple of months ago, we wrote in a post about this classic midway illusion: Sadly, there are few if any working today. If you know of one, let us know.

This awesome set of Girl to Gorilla banners was painted by the late great Lew Stamm, whose showfronts are highly regarded in the business. “They were done for my father in 1991. My dad traded his car for them,” said Lindsey Constantine, who is co-owner of the sideshow company. The rest of the set including the ticketbooth is currently being painted prior to its appearance at the fair. It’s the front of the show that gets the dough!

The Constantines are also bringing their popular World’s Smallest Woman, World’s Smallest Horse, Snake Illusion and Oddity Museum to the New Jersey fair.

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