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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island History Project’

Playland Arcade

Remaining Playland Letters Saved by the Coney Island History Project. February 14, 2013. Photo © Coney Island History Project

The demolition of Coney Island’s Playland Arcade got underway in October, but was interrupted by Sandy. The job was finished today. It’s gone!

Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project managed to save the remaining letters on the facade– L, N and D– and several of the whimsical yet deteriorating murals. “Our previous efforts at preservation were hampered by trespassers, vandals, black mold, the untimely death of Playland’s caretaker, Andy Badalamenti, as well as Superstorm Sandy,” according to a photo album on the History Project’s Facebook page. The artifacts will be exhibited this season.

An arcade existed in the Playland building from the 1930s until 1981, operated by four sets of brothers over a fifty year period. In 1981 the arcade machines were auctioned and the business closed, leaving Playland vacant for the past thirty years.

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October 23, 2012: Playland Arcade Demolition Under Way in Coney Island

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Janaury 16, 2012: Photo of the Day: Signs of Coney’s Club Atlantis Resurface

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

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Gargiulo's Restaurant

Gargiulo’s Restaurant Will Host the Alliance for Coney Island’s Winter Celebration on December 13. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On December 13, Coney Island’s newest nonprofit, the Alliance for Coney Island, is having its first fundraiser at the recently reopened Gargiulo’s Restaurant. Coney Island’s Winter Celebration will benefit Coney Recovers, an initiative launched in the days after Hurricane Sandy to organize volunteers and relief efforts. Tickets for Thursday’s benefit, which includes entertainment, cocktails and dinner are $100 via advance purchase and $120 at the door.

The Alliance’s board consists of owners of businesses in the amusement area including Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the Brooklyn Cyclones, Nathan’s and Gargiulo’s, as well as the nonprofit New York Aquarium and Astella Development. Although the members of the Alliance suffered storm damage and most remain closed while they recover and rebuild, the priority of the new organization has been to aid neighborhood residents and businesses.

Astella Development

After Sandy: Astella Development on Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island. December 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Coney Recovers, which is a coalition of Astella Development Corporation, the Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Island Hospital, and the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, recently received a $100,000 grant from the Brooklyn Foundation and $25,000 from Robin Hood’s relief fund. Their plan is to set up an office to organize rebuilding and immediate needs, create the “Coney Corps” to provide job opportunities and skills training for local residents to help in the rebuilding, and develop a long-term recovery plan for the community. The Alliance is a successor to the Coney Island Development Corporation and will take over the CIDC’s tourism marketing efforts for Coney Island.

Kiddie Whip Car

Amanda Deutch Cleaning Kiddie Whip Car at History Project After Hurricane Sandy. November 1, 2012. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project.

Coney Island’s three nonprofit attractions–the New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA and the Coney Island History Project, were extensively damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy and have asked for donations via their websites. Their fundraising efforts have been decidedly low-key since many of their own personnel were flooded out of their homes and the focus of relief efforts has been residents without heat, electricity or basic services. If these nonprofits are to reopen as planned in the spring or summer, they will need to drum up more funds from supporters to recover and rebuild.

Coney Island USA

Patrick Wall Continues Clean-Up at Coney Island USA Sideshows by the Seashore. December 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

November 20, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: Mini-Golf or Roller Rink to Replace Denny’s?

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

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Shore Theater

Vacant and for Sale: The Shore Theater, on left, viewed from the Thunderbolt lot, a 3-acre development site. July 30, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The above photo taken yesterday shows Coney Island’s long-vacant Shore Theater, on the left, viewed from the three-acre development site where the Thunderbolt roller coaster, illegally demolished by the City in 2000, once stood. Both are owned by Horace Bullard and are among two dozen privately owned properties advertised for sale or lease on a Coney Island Development Corp. map of retail opportunities in 2011 and 2012. The Shore Theater has an asking price of $13 million and the Thunderbolt parcel says “Submit all Offers.” Nobody snapped ’em up yet. If you think about it, buyers are few in Coney’s over-priced amusement area. There’s the City and Thor Equities. Plus Coney Island USA, which bought the building next door to their sideshow headquarters.

Coney Island USA’s artistic director Dick Zigun and Brooklyn Daily deserve credit for calling attention to the plight of the Shore Theater, which has been shuttered for more than 35 years. In December 2010, the City landmarked the exterior and presumably would like to see the building restored. But in our opinion, Zigun saying that the City should seize the Shore from its owner and the Brooklyn Daily doing a reader poll on the E.D. issue is grandstanding to make a point.

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loew's Coney Island, is up for City landmark designation. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Shore Theater, formerly the Loews Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Bloomberg administration was right to back off from the idea of taking land by condemnation from Thor Equities and other Coney Island property owners during the rezoning hearings in 2009. Under sharp questioning by City Council land use committee members, the EDC’s Seth Pinsky was forced to admit, “I’m not saying we will use eminent domain, but in fairness to your question, I’m not saying we won’t.” In order to get Council members to agree to vote for the zoning, the EDC instead had to negotiate an agreement to buy property from Thor Equities. At the same time, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and other property owners were no longer threatened by E.D.

As for the Shore, the City should either come up with the money to buy Bullard’s property or find a buyer. Community Board 13’s land use committee voted yes on the Coney Island rezoning, but one of the non-binding stipulations was that the City buy the theater and make it into a community arts center. What happened to that idea? Ideally BP Marty Markowitz could use the $64 million set aside for the Seaside Park amphitheater to purchase and renovate the Shore. Or somebody can start a “Chip in” to buy the Shore and Mayor Bloomberg can make it one of his charitable projects. The City should buy the Thunderbolt parcel too and use it to right Mayor Giuliani’s wrong and rebuild either the Thunderbolt or the Tornado.

As far as we know, there’s no precedent for the Landmarks Preservation Commission taking property by Eminent Domain. There is however the precedent of a Demolition by Neglect lawsuit which, if successful, requires the owner to fix up the property or sell it. As ATZ reported at the time of the Shore’s landmarking in December 2010:

If the building is landmarked, Demolition by Neglect laws could come into play. The New York City demolition by neglect ordinance states, “every [owner] of a landmark site or historic district shall keep in good repair (1) all of the exterior portions of such improvement and (2) all interior portions thereof which, if not so maintained, may cause or tend to cause the exterior portions of such improvement to deteriorate, decay or become damaged or otherwise to fell into a state of disrepair.” NEW YORK, N.Y., CODE § 25-311 (2001).

Last year [2009], in a precedent setting lawsuit, the City was awarded $1.1 million in civil penalties and gave the owners of the landmarked Windermere apartments a choice of fixing the property or selling it. “This settlement sends a message to owners of landmarked buildings that they must keep them in a state of good repair,” said Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a New York City Law Department press release about the case. “Buildings like the Windermere are an indispensable part of New York City’s architectural heritage and must be preserved for future generations.”

A rare glimpse of the ornate interior of the Shore Theater, photographed by historian Charles Denson, is on view at the Coney Island History Project exhibit center though September 3rd.

UPDATE August 4, 2012

Charles Denson’s beautiful photos of the Shore Theater interior made into a heartbreaking video. Watch it here.

Coney Island Theatre Building.  Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

Coney Island Theatre Building. Photo © katherine of chicago via flickr

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October 20, 2015: Goodbye Ghost Hole, MCU Parking Lot? City’s Coney Land Grab Not Just Vacant Land

January 10, 2012: Will Casino Gold Rush of 1970s Replay in Coney Island

December 14, 2010: Amid Demolitions & Evictions in Coney Island, City Landmarks Shore Theater

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

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B & B Carousell

B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night the Empire State Building was lit up blue and white in honor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was a prelude to this morning’s announcement that New York City has been selected as the location for Partners in Preservation 2012. American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, will award $3 million to preserve historic places in New York City. Coney Island’s B & B Carousell is one of 40 competitors vying for your online vote.

From April 26 through May 21, New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet. According to the initiative’s press release, the top four vote-getters, to be announced May 22, are guaranteed to receive grants for their preservation projects. A Partners in Preservation advisory committee of community and preservation leaders will select sites that will receive the rest of the $3 million in grants.

On May 5 and 6, the Coney Island History Project is hosting a “B & B Carousell Open House” where the first restored horse will be on display along with photos of the restoration process and archival images of the carousel. The historic carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million. The 1919 ride was packed up and moved from its longtime location on the north side of Surf Avenue and sent to Carousels & Carvings in Ohio for restoration.

The Partners in Preservation grant would fund transport and assembly from the restoration in Ohio back to New York. In 2013, the B & B will reopen in a new pavilion next to the Parachute Jump.

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

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

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

February 26, 2010: Made in Brooklyn: The World’s Only Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

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Andy Badalamenti Tries Out the 120-year old chair at the Coney Island History Project, August 29, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island lost a good friend on Monday. Andy Badalamenti, who operated such legendary rides as the Tornado and the Bobsled, and lived in the house under the Thunderbolt roller coaster when he worked as its caretaker, died on Monday after battling cancer. “Coney Island was Andy’s life and obsession,” wrote Charles Denson, in a moving tribute to his friend, who is featured in his books “Coney Island: Lost and Found” and “Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family.”

“Andy grew up working in Coney Island. He possessed a pure devotion to whatever ride he worked on and the people he worked for,” Denson writes in “Wild Ride.” When the Tornado roller coaster was set afire by arsonists in 1977, Andy climbed to the top and stood beneath the Christmas cross screaming “We’re gonna fix it! The Tornado will be back!” But the coaster was doomed. “The image of Andy Badalamenti high atop the smoldering ruins of the historic roller coaster, triumphant and defiant, promising rebirth, remains a part of Coney Island folkore,” writes Denson.

This photo of Andy Badalamenti trying out a 120-year-old chair from Feltman’s Maple Garden Restaurant was taken at the Coney Island History Project on August 29, 2008. Astroland was set to close forever on the next weekend. After winning a one-year reprieve, many of us felt despondent about not being able to save the park again. But Andy wasn’t about to give up hope. He had dreams of moving the rides a few blocks away and was busily talking up the idea. His eyes always glittered when he smiled.

The 120-year-old chair had a sign telling people not to sit on it, but if anyone had earned the right to sit on a Coney Island museum piece it was Andy Badalamenti. Rest in peace, Andy. Coney Island will miss you.

The wake will be at 2-5pm and 7-9pm on July 27 and 28 at Cusimano and Russo Funeral Home, 2005 W. 6th St at Avenue T, in Brooklyn. The funeral will be at 9:45am on Friday, July 29, at the Church of Saints Simon and Jude, 185 Van Sicklen St at Avenue T.

Andy Badalamenti

Andy Badalamenti with Louise Bonsignore, whose family owned and operated the Bobsled, at the Coney Island History Project. September 8, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita

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March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

July 29, 2011: Photo Album: Coney Island Tribute to Andy Badalamenti

May 19, 2011: Rest in Peace: Rabbi Abraham Abraham’s Synagogue Was the Beach

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

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Beachfront Condos

Beachfront Condos Under Construction on Boardwalk at 32nd St, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via Android

The first private beachfront condominiums to be built on the Coney Island Boardwalk are under construction at West 32nd Street and are expected to be completed this summer. The four-story building will have 11 units including 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, each with its own parking stall. Marina Krasnova of New Vision told ATZ that sales prices range from $685,000 for a one-bedroom to $1.55 million for the penthouse.

Located in the West End of Coney Island, across the street from the NYC Housing Authority’s Coney Island Houses, this new construction is a harbinger of more beachfront residential to come. The rezoning plan approved by the City Council in 2009 put 26 high rise residential towers and 5,000 new units of housing in Coney Island, including beachfront condos on Taconic Investment Partners 5.5 blocks of vacant land just west of MCU Park (West 20th Street).

We think it is the future beachfront residential, which Taconic has valued at $300-$900 per square foot, that is driving the City’s plan to gentrify the Boardwalk and make it into a year-round destination with upscale restaurants and bars.

Beachfront Condos Under Construction on Boardwalk at 32nd St, Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, who grew up in Coney Island Houses, tells ATZ that the lot on West 32nd Street has been vacant since 1982. “It was the site of Sam’s Knishes and the Lincoln Baths,” said Denson, whose book Coney Island: Lost and Found combines a history of land use in his neighborhood and boyhood memoir. “Sam’s had the best cherry cheese knishes in the world and the Lincoln Baths go back over 110 years.” On the History Project’s blog “Ask Mr Coney Island,” Denson notes that the Lincoln Baths, along with the Washington Baths (W 21st St), Roosevelt Baths (W 30th St) and Jefferson Baths (W 33rd St) were Coney Island’s “presidential bathhouses.”

“The bathhouses were where people rented lockers and changed from street clothes to swim suits. You could also rent swimsuits and beach chairs and umbrellas,” writes Denson. “They were very social places and generations of families and friends from the same neighborhoods patronized the same bathhouses for years until the last one (Brighton Beach Baths) was demolished in the early 1990s.”

Coney Island Boardwalk

Coney Island Boardwalk east of West 33rd Street showing the Lincoln Baths in the foreground, 1924. Eugene L. Armbruster Collection, New York Public Library

How did it happen that land once occupied by bathhouses patronized by working class New Yorkers is destined to become luxury beachfront apartments? The Washington Baths site, which Thor Equities bought from Horace Bullard for $13 million, was flipped to Taconic for an exorbitant $90 million because both parties were sure the City would rezone it for residential.

Taconic Investment Partners plans to build a glittering city of 2,500 apartments and 200,000 square feet of retail west and north of MCU Park. According to Taconic’s website: “The North Venture consists of three city blocks on the North side of Surf Avenue totaling nearly 109,000 square feet. One block from the beach, these parcels include vacant or under-improved land. Coney Island South Venture encompasses 5.5 acres on the south side of Surf Avenue, interspersed over four blocks along the beachfront, and is also comprised of vacant or under-improved land totaling nearly 240,000 square feet.”

As Taconic CEO William Bendit told Eliot Brown of the New York Observer in an interview in 2009: “What attracted us to Coney Island was the fact that it’s vacant land—we didn’t have to dispossess anybody, relocate anybody. And it’s the beachfront. How much beachfront land is there in New York City? Not only that, but beachfront land that’s accessible to the subway. So, if you think about it, how many young people, or anybody, for that matter, would like to commute into New York or Brooklyn, and go home at night and live on the beach?”

What would it take to make you move to the new Coney Island?

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering. CIDC Press Kit

Coney Island Aerial: Detail of Conceptual Rendering Shows Residential Towers West and North of MCU Park. CIDC Press Kit

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December 20, 2011: Update: Coney Island’s 1st Private Beachfront Condos on Boardwalk

January 11, 2010: Steeplechase Pool, Zip Coaster Sites to Be De-Mapped for Housing

July 27, 2009: Tall, Skinny & Destined to Kill Coney Island: High Rises on South Side of Surf

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Whip Car

Mackie 'Rides' the Whip Car at the Coney Island History Project. May 22, 2010. Photo © Coney Island History Project via flickr

This Mangels’ Fairy Whip car is one of our favorite artifacts in the Coney Island History Project’s exhibition center. It was manufactured circa 1920 at William F. Mangels Factory on 8th Street in Coney Island, which is now the Department of Motor Vehicles Building. Mangels, who was the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, is one of the amusement industry pioneers honored in the Coney Island Hall of Fame.

But if you want to ride the Whip, you’ll have to take a trip to Rye Playland, Knoebels, Kennywood, Trimper’s or any one of the other parks or carnivals listed on ATZ’s Whip Census. This video pays tribute to Mangels, who was born on February 1, 1867, and shows the Whip in action at Knoebels.

Last February we marked the birthday of William F Mangels with a pictorial tribute to his shooting gallery targets. This year we’re proclaiming Bring Back the Whip! It’s a shame that Coney Island, where this classic ride was invented, doesn’t have an operating Whip. Patented by Mangels in 1914, the Whip was one of the first and most popular thrill rides. Old timers tell us there used to be quite a few Whips as well as quite a few carousels and roller coasters in good ol’ Coney Island. Wouldn’t it be fitting to have a Mangels Whip installed in Steeplechase Plaza next to Mangels’ B & B Carousell?

Painted Buckets

Painted Buckets: Scene at Trimpers: The Whip - one of the antique mini rides for the little kids. March 27, 2010. Photo © OC Always via flickr

A couple of years ago we started the Whip Census with the help of our friends on Matt’s Carnival Warehouse forum. We were surprised and pleased to find so many Whips out there! As you’ll see from the list, which we believe is far from complete,the ride is still very popular. And it’s nice to know there are still some traveling ones since the Whip is considered the first portable thrill ride. If you know about additional locations, including rides in storage, please comment below or email hello[at]triciavita[dot]com. Perhaps one of these Whips can be relocated to Coney Island in the future!

Parks

Americana/LeSourdsville Lake Park, Monroe, OH. 8-car Whip added in 1941. Park has been closed since 2002.

Beech Bend Park, Bowling Green KY,  Kiddie Whip bought at Guntown Mt sale, originally from Beech Bend and returned home.

Bushkill Park, Easton, PA. Park is currently closed

Camden Park, Huntington, WV, 8-car model

Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH, 8-car oval Kiddie Whip

Cedar Point, Sandusky OH, Kiddie Roto Whip

Dorney Park, Allentown, PA, 12-car model

Hillcrest Park, Wilmington, IL, Roto Whip. Park closed and ride was sold at auction in 2003.

Idlewild Park, Ligonier, PA. 12-car Whip added in 1930s. It now has fiberglass cars.

Keansburg Amusement Park, NJ, Roto Whip

Kennywood Park, West Mifflin, PA, 1918: The Whip is added. 1923: Kiddie Whip is among the first four rides in Kiddieland. 1926: The original 12-car Whip is replaced by a new 16-car model. 1975: Kiddie Whip is destroyed in Dance Hall (Ghost Ship) fire. A vintage miniature Whip from Massachusett’s defunct Paragon Park replaced it.

The Whip

The Whip at Kennywood Park Jul 26, 2010. Photo © agentsmj/Scott Jones

Kiddieland, Melrose Park, IL, 1949 Roto-Whip. Park closed & rides auctioned in 2009. Whip purchased for $11,500 by Jeff Kimble, an antiques collector and restoration specialist who has a private, 30-acre indoor park in Loganville, Ga.

Kings Island, Mason, OH, Kiddie Whip

Knoebels, Elysburg, PA, Whip from Croops Glen in Hunlock Creek PA moved to Knoebels in the 40s or 50s. Knoebels also has a Kiddie Whip (Oval).

Lakeside Park, Denver, CO

Lakeside Park, Fond du Lac, WI, Roto Whip

Magic Forest, Lake George, NY, Roto Whip

Midway State Park, Bemus Point, NY, Roto Whip

Pocono Mt Go Kart Play Park, Marshall’s Creek, PA, Roto Whip

Rye Playland, Rye, NY, 12-car model

Stricker’s Grove, Ross, OH, Kiddie Whip

Sylvan Beach Amusement Park on Oneida Lake, NY, Roto Whip and one or two other Mangels pieces.

Trimper’s Rides, Ocean City, MD, Fairy Whip for kids (indoors)

Twin Grove Park & Campground, Pine Grove, PA

Carnivals

Benner’s Amusements, PA, Kiddie  Oval Whip from Eldridge Park in Elmira, NY

Chuck Reid’s Imperial Shows, CT, Roto-Whip

Funtastic Shows, Oregon

Hudson Valley Shows, NY.  Roto Whip

Montana Brothers Amusements, Scranton, PA

Perry Amusements, Ohio. Roto Whip, trailer mounted by the show

Rainbow Promotons, Lansdowne, PA, 6-car model, truck mounted Kiddie Whip that is now on a trailer.

Fatty Rides the Whip

Fatty Arbuckle Rides the Whip in 1917 silent film comedy 'Coney Island'

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November 18, 2010: Good News from Coney Island! Eldorado “Bump Your Ass Off” Bumper Cars To Reopen

September 4, 2010: Go Up, It’s Great! Coney Island’s & Deno’s Wonder Wheel

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

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

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