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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island Hall of Fame’

Coney Island Trolley Pole

Trolley Pole from the 86th Street Line on Stillwell Ave at Mermaid Ave. March 23, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Outside McDonald’s in Coney Island is Stillwell Avenue’s last remaining trolley pole, a vestige of the 86th Street trolley line which went from Bay Ridge to Coney’s Stillwell Terminal and ended in 1948. Located at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues, the trolley pole is now used by Mickey D’s to advertise lunch specials, but we’re naming it the Granville T. Woods Memorial Trolley Pole because this street corner happens to be Granville T. Woods Way. It appears to be the last trolley pole on Stillwell Avenue.

Granville T. Woods invented the overhead conducting system which made the trolley possible. He held more than a dozen patents for electric railway technology including a power distribution system first tested and demonstrated to the public at Coney Island in 1892. In 2008, the African American inventor was honored with the street naming and was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame.

As far as we know, Coney Island has forty-four surviving trolley utility poles. In February, ATZ wrote about the loss of two century-old poles on Surf Avenue and the 43 that remain on Surf (“Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History,” ATZ, February 21, 2012). When trolley service on the Surf Avenue-Seagate line ended on December 1, 1946, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce requested that the poles on both sides of Surf Avenue be left in place in the amusement area to be used for holiday decorations.

Stan Fox, the former owner of Playland Arcade, told ATZ that about ten years ago, Charlie Tesoro of the Chamber asked him to count the poles on Surf Avenue. “There were sixty-four,” says Fox. “Since then some have fallen down. Others were removed.” The ones in front of MCU Park were removed when the stadium was constructed, he says. Fox updated his trolley pole census and said there are currently 43 poles on Surf Avenue as well as this solitary pole on Stillwell Avenue.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit Trolley 2585 on 86th Street line in front of Stillwell Avenue Terminal, between Mermaid & Surf Avenues. August 11, 1944. North Jersey NHRS Collection via Coney Island Island History Project

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19th century Mangels mechanical shooting gallery

This late 19th century Mangels mechanical shooting gallery owned by Doris Duke and installed at Duke Farms sold at auction last summer for $43,200. Photo via Millea Bros Ltd

William F. Mangels, the Coney Island-based inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, also held the most patents on shooting gallery targets. From the early 1900s until 1969, well after other manufacturers had gone out of business, Mangels’ Coney Island shop turned out cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, stars and moons, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats.

In the early 1900s, shooting gallery operators could select from 25 different kinds of targets for “The Slide” –a chain slide mechanism– all for a dollar a piece. Ducks with moving wings could be purchased for an extra fifty cents! Today, collectors are willing to pay $200 to $1,000 per target, depending on the condition and rarity of the figure. Last June, an intact Mangels mechanical shooting gallery installed at Duke Farms and used by heiress Doris Duke during parties at her home sold at auction for $43,200! It featured a moving clown, ducks, squirrels, birds, stars and circular spinning targets. The late 19th century shooting gallery was stamped “W.F.M. Co. 389” and bears the characteristic plaque “Made by W.F. Mangels Co. – Coney Island – New York.”

ATZ can’t let February go by without honoring the memory of this amusement industry innovator’s birth. Born February 1, 1867, Mangels was best known as a developer and supplier of amusement rides and the mechanisms for carousels and roller coasters After he died on February 11, 1958 at age 92, his family carried on the business for another decade. The Coney Island History Project inducted Mangels into the Coney Island Hall of Fame and some of his kiddie rides can still be enjoyed by visitors to Coney Island’s Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Keep an eye out for the rides that bear the Mangels plaque.

Mangels Pony Cart Ride

Mangels Pony Cart Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. The Mangels plaque can be seen to the left of the numeral 8. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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

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November 5, 2010: Museum Piece or Obsolete? Old Carnival Games, Stick Joints on eBay

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