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Posts Tagged ‘Dick Zigun’

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1970s Photo of Shooting Gallery Under the Wonder Wheel Made by W.F. Mangels Co., Coney Island. Photograph © 1975 by Charles Denson

A rare vintage 1940’s Coney Island shooting gallery that used to be under the Wonder Wheel is about to come out of retirement and make a comeback on Surf Avenue. Last night Dick Zigun, artistic director of Coney Island USA, announced in a series of tweets that the iconic shooting gallery, which had operated for many decades next to Spook-A-Rama on Jones Walk, would reopen at 1214 Surf Avenue.

Zigun said that the historic shooting gallery will be a “major working exhibit/game fronting CIUSA’s new Art/Culture gallery formerly Denny’s Ice Cream.” The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ ice cream shop and building next door to Coney Island USA’s headquarters last March for $1.3 million. Unfortunately, Denny’s was one of the first casualties of Superstorm Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area. The building had to be gutted and there was talk of replacing the ruined ice cream machines with a paintball game, mini-golf or a roller rink. The idea of using the Mangels shooting gallery in storage at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park came up when it had to be moved during renovations after the storm.

Pictured above in a 1975 photograph by Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson, the gallery has cast-iron targets in the shape of soldiers, paratroopers and torpedo boats. It was manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, and the builder of the mechanism for the B & B Carousell. Researching a story on antique carnival pieces for Games Magazine a few years ago, we learned from a collector that Mangels held the most patents on shooting gallery targets. From the early 1900s until 1969, well after other manufacturers had gone out of business, his shop on 8th Street produced a wide variety of targets.

Coney Island shooting gallery target

Morphy Auctions

Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers. Last April, ATZ wrote about this Mangels’ paratrooper target up for auction in Pennsylvania. It appears identical to the large paratrooper seen in Charles Denson’s photo. The price realized for the single target was $1,020. In 2009, 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!

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Coney Island Post-Dandy

Coney Island Post-Sandy: Interior Demolition of Storm-Ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream, Surf Avenue. November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

One of the first casualties of Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area could be replaced with mini-golf or a roller rink. Which do you prefer? Over the weekend, while storm-ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream on Surf Avenue was being gutted by volunteers, Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun asked his followers on twitter: “Miniature Golf or Roller Rink to replace Denny’s Ice Cream? Opinions so far polling 50/50 & no one supports Paint Ball or Spin Art…hmm…”

Last week, word on the street was that the beloved ice cream shop established in 1978 and now owned by CIUSA would become a paintball game emporium a la Shoot the Freak. Replacing the ruined ice cream machines would be too costly for the arts organization, whose Freak Bar and theater next door was also damaged by the storm.

Dick’s new proposals signaled the start of a social media battle between #TeamRollerRink and #TeamMiniGolf. Just so you know, ATZ has added “Artist-Designed Mini-Golf Enthusiast” to our resume. We see the attraction as a quirky new successor to the mini-golf that used to be part of Batting Range and Go Kart City on Stillwell Avenue. There’s no reason it can’t also be a Black Light Mini-Golf with freaky interactive holes and a booth selling Denny’s signature banana pistachio soft serve and other fave snacks. #TeamMiniGolf had this to say….

The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ ice cream shop and building next door to Coney Island USA’s headquarters last March for $1.3 million. At the time, Zigun told ATZ: “Since we own an ice cream parlor and have no money to renovate, Denny’s might or might not continue next year. Even once we renovate the building will maintain a 500-square-foot storefront taking up most of Surf Avenue frontage that will always serve light food to street plus lobby inside.”

“Some day we can transfer air rights from the landmark Childs Building, match the two-story front of Childs then do a setback with an additional five to seven story tower on top of the base,” Zigun noted. The renderings that he showed last year at a Coney Island presentation at the AIA included a whimsical homage to the Elephant Hotel, which in the meantime would make a dandy hole for Mini Golf. Unless of course #TeamRollerRink wins this one…

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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

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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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