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Posts Tagged ‘1940s’

Spring is in the air and Coney Island’s Opening Day is a mere five weeks away, but this short film by Josh A. Kapusinski was shot when the beach and boardwalk were still blanketed with snow. “The King of Merriment is a film that explores the happiness and beauty of Coney Island and its regular visitors in full winter charm – mashed up and juxtaposed with archival footage from Coney in its heyday of the 1940s and 50s,” says the film-maker, an Emmy-­winning motion graphics designer.

We’re not usually a fan of mashups, but this one is very adeptly done. If some of the restaurants and shops that are open year-round were shown, it could be a promo for Coney Island in winter. Vivid, dreamlike sequences of people playing frisbee, bicycling, and walking in a snowy and silent Coney contrast with audio and video from a 1940’s travelogue in which the narrator describes “the place where Merriment is King.” Perhaps the most striking detail is vintage footage of Nathan’s hot dogs being cooked on a griddle projected onto the shuttered gates of Nathan’s Boardwalk eatery in winter.

For info on what to see and do in Coney Island before the rides open for the season on April 13th, check out our post “Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round,” (ATZ, Sept. 13, 2013).

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Before television, newsreels like this one filmed in Coney Island circa 1945 were shown in movie theaters. The film starts with the Wonder Wheel (described by the narrator as “a mass of iron lace”) and ends with the Parachute Jump (“the highest in the whole United States”) and the Cyclone (“mountain climbing on wheels”). Among the long-vanished rides that appear are the Virginia Reel, Looper, Whip, Octopus, Caterpillar, Rocket Ships, a carousel with a ring machine and the original Steeplechase horse race.

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Mangels Shooting Gallery

1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery, Coney Island USA. August 3, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The restoration of the 1940′s Coney Island shooting gallery that ATZ wrote about earlier this year was completed in August and boy is it a beauty. Located next-door to Coney Island USA’s main building, the vintage gallery brings an authentic, old-timey ambiance to that part of Surf Avenue. It’s the third shooting gallery to debut in Coney Island this season as a replacement for equipment and businesses damaged by flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

Made in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, it’s also the only publicly operating shooting gallery of this vintage that we’re currently aware of. There are a few in private collections. Very few. A collector who contacted ATZ, said he had installed one in his home for family and friends to play. Another gallery is used as a decorative piece at a bar in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio, where it was discovered when the restaurant owner was renovating. No shooting allowed!

The gallery restored by Coney Island USA is on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, where it was uncovered during post-Sandy renovations. Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually. In May, a Mangels cast-iron gallery with over 150 targets from the Elli Buk Collection sold at auction for $60,000 after competitive bidding.

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