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Posts Tagged ‘Astroland Shrine’

Last year at this time, we were mourning the loss of Coney Island’s Astroland Park and tending a little shrine on Astroland’s Boardwalk Gates. Here’s a look back at the Astroland Gate on New Year’s Day 2009 by Livvvvvvv via YouTube. The children’s voices are poignant…

The memorial began the day after Christmas with our handmade collage, a friend’s bouquet of flowers and a banner of a tightrope dancer. Two days later, we learned the collage had been stolen, its plastic fasteners cut. When the black ink on the banner bled in the rain, photographer Bruce Handy said the ballerina was weeping. But the shrine grew to include photos, banner painter Marie Roberts’ paintbrush (symbolizing a fresh start), beads, a paper mache mask, and a cane. The flowers remained in place through opening day of Coney Island’s 2009 season.

On January 1, 2010, we’ll be in Coney Island as usual to celebrate the New Year with the multitude of friends and strangers who come for the Polar Bear Club Swim. No, we’re not swimming, but we’re sponsoring a Bear who is Freezin’ for a Reason and you can, too. It’s for a good cause–they’re raising funds for Camp Sunshine.

We’d like to decorate the gate with a few photos, too. In addition to memorializing the good times at Astroland, we want to let visitors know that Coney Island is not closed! On Palm Sunday (March 28, 2010), the Cyclone Roller Coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Eldorado Bumper Cars, Coney Island Sideshow and other Coney Island businesses open for the season. By Memorial Day Weekend, the former Astroland site will be home to a yet-to-be-designated amusement operator‘s rides and attractions. We anticipate nothing less than a spectacular summer season. Happy New Year Everyone! Happy New Year to Coney Island!

Kris Kringle's Cane

Miracle on the Boardwalk: Kris Kringle's Cane on the Astroland Shrine. January 2, 2009. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

September 2, 2009: The Sad Anniversary of Coney Island’s Astroland Going Dark

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

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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The Original Astroland Shrine, December 26, 2008. Photo © Bruce Handy (Pablo57) via flickr

The Original Astroland Shrine, December 26, 2008. Photo © Bruce Handy (Pablo57) via flickr


Photographer and Coney Island resident Bruce Handy aka pablo57 has created a set of images on flickr to memorialize the first anniversary of the closing of Astroland. Titled “Astroland Shrine,” the photos and videos have an elegiac beauty and are certain to break your heart all over again. Seeing the removal of the demon from Dante’s Inferno and listening to the wail of the Astro Tower amid the teardown enveloped me in sadness. From Bruce’s intro:

Once upon a time, in the southern part of Brooklyn, in the land of rabbits, named Coney Island, there stood a timeless amusement park named Astroland. Astroland went dark on September 7, 2008 and this is the tale of the boardwalk shrine sprung from our sorrow and grief.

The original shrine was created on December 26, 2008. Four items, a bouquet of flowers, the shrine iconic collage, a hand written note saying to add more items, and a large ink drawing of a ballerina holding an umbrella.

The photo is taken from the point of view of mermaids looking at the shrine from the slats in the boardwalk.

The images in Bruce’s flickr set date from the day after Christmas in 2008, when the Astroland Shrine was created, to March 2009. “I just feel like it’s the right time to post the photos, all in one spot. It’s the gates, again locked,” Bruce says, referring to the locked gates of Dreamland Park. Following a dispute with Dreamland’s manager, property owner Thor Equities abruptly shut down the temporary amusement area on the former Astroland site. “I guess that has brought this on and the anniversary of Astroland going dark coming up. It is very emotional, I don’t know why I’m torturing myself doing it. I will be finished on Sept 7th.”

The Associated Press released a list of highlights in history for Sept 7 that includes “Astroland, New York City’s world famous amusement park at Coney Island, closed after 46 years.” Do you have any special plans to commemorate the anniversary? “Bring MORE flowers. People are afraid to destroy flowers,” says Bruce. ATZ plans to bring a bouquet to the Coney Island History Project’s Astroland Archives Photography Exhibit

The New York Times article from September 8, 2008, “Astroland Closes, This Time, It Appears, for Good,” is worth rereading for the graf about Thor Equities:

Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for Thor Equities, said in a statement that the developer had been in touch with “numerous amusement operators” to discuss setting up “permanent year-round development.” The city and Joseph J. Sitt, the chairman of Thor Equities, which is now the largest landowner in the area, have yet to reach an agreement on how to redevelop Coney Island, though locals worry that the neighborhood will become awash in generic chain stores, condominiums and hotels.

One year later, Sitt has shut down the handful of mom-and-pop amusement operators brought to “Dreamland Park” this season to replace the evicted Astroland. Although the real estate speculator promised “more than 25 fun-filled rides” back in April to match Astroland’s ride count, only about a dozen rides came to Thor Equities’ Dreamland. The Coney rezoning passed in City Council at the end of the July, yet a deal to acquire Sitt’s property, including the former Astroland site, has yet to be announced. “Fundamentally, the deal with him is done,” Mayor Bloomberg recently told the Brooklyn Paper.

ATZ will be in Coney Island on Labor Day, September 7, to enjoy everything Coney Island has to offer in 2009: the 43 rides, the beach, the bars and the world-class people watching on the Boardwalk.

Full disclosure: I’m the Astro fan who created the Astroland collage which was stolen from the park’s gate. As I scrawled in the note begging for the icon’s return, which appears in one of Bruce’s photos: “Please put it back! It took me several hours to make it. I am not an artist, just made it to memorialize Astroland!” Put back Astroland, too! The park’s rides remain in storage.

This

This anonymous note disappeared within a day: Astroland R.I.P -- I Will Miss You 4-Ever. Photo © Bruce Handy (Pablo57) via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 30, 2009: Looking Back & Forward: Astroland Shrine on New Year’s Day 2009

November 23, 2009: The Contenders from A to Z: Coney Island Amusement Operator RFP

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

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

Read Full Post »

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