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Posts Tagged ‘Fascination’

Here are a few photos taken for our feature story “Fascinated by Fascination” in the current issue of Games Magazine. Last fall after Coney Island lost its Faber’s Fascination sign, ATZ first wrote about the Fascination Parlor on the south shore of Boston in “Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round.”  A sign in the window proudly proclaims that this arcade game, which combines the luck of bingo with the skill of Skee-ball, was brought to Nantasket Beach from Coney Island more than 60 years ago. In Coney, the game was once popular enough to keep three Fascination parlors flourishing — Faber’s, Eddie’s and Moe’s–but the last one closed in the 1970s and now there are none.

In August, we made the trip to Nantasket Beach in Hull to play Fascination for the first time and write about it for Games. The travel piece also delves into the history of Fascination, which made its debut in Coney, and the game’s inventor John Gibbs. At the heart of the story are reminiscences and photos related to Nat Faber’s Empire, which encompassed Fascination Parlors in Coney Island, as well as the Rockaways and Long Beach and Edgemere in Long Island.

“Fascinated by Fascination” is in the February 2012 issue of Games Magazine, which went on sale today, November 29. Copies are available at newsstands or may be purchased via Games website.

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Related posts on ATZ…

August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

April 13, 2011: Coney Island Arcade Debuts Cobra, Braves Loss of Arcade

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

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Last Night at Faber's Fascination

Last Night at Faber's Fascination. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

After more than 50 years, the fabulous lightbulb lettering on the front of Faber’s Fascination, an arcade that was one of Coney Island’s oldest year-round businesses, will no longer light up Surf Avenue. The arcade’s last day of business was Labor Day. On Tuesday, arcade machines were being hauled out and trucked away. The sign is the last vestige of Nat Faber’s arcade empire, which dates back to the 1930’s, though the Fabers got into the business in the early 20th century. The iconic marquee is on the front of the historic Henderson Building, owned by Thor Equities and currently being subjected to pre-demolition asbestos abatement. Faber’s was the last remaining tenant in the building.

Faber's Fascination. Photo © Mister Pony via flickr

Faber's Fascination sign in 2006 photo. © Mister Pony via flickr

Nat Faber’s arcade once occupied the entire first floor of the Henderson Building. Faber’s Sportland had the corner location where Popeye’s Chicken flourished for the past two decades. Faber’s amusement empire once encompassed arcades on Coney’s Boardwalk and at Surf and Kensington Walk, as well as Rockaway’s Playland, Long Beach in Long Island and the heart of Times Square. In 1935, according to a report in the Billboard, “Following a year’s preparation, Nat Faber opened the showiest sportland in New York’s Times Square. Flags and bunting decorated the front and a series of ads in the New York Times heralded the opening. This is the fourth sportland Faber opened between 1933-1935.”

Last Night at Faber's Fascination. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Night at Faber's Fascination. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

In 1939, Faber’s Fascination in the Henderson Building got its name written in blazing, chasing lights! By the early 1950’s the arcade was advertised as the only air-conditioned place of its kind in Coney Island. Nat Faber installed 48 new Fascination tables and new balls, and flashed the place with merchandise brought in from Los Angeles. He prided himself on having the top mike man in Coney Island. Faber’s Fortune next door got redone as Faber’s Sportland with Skeeball, Shuffle Alleys and Pokerino.

fabers coupon

Most establishments encouraged patrons to book or open a points/coupons savings account within the store - as evidenced by the reverse side of this Faber 's Store ticket. Back in the mid 1950s, Faber boasted that they had been in business for 40 years and were operating in such places as Coney Island as well as the Seaside and Edgemere sections of the Rockaways. Photo & caption courtesy of rockawaymemories.com

Stan Fox, whose brother operated four arcades in Coney island, recalls Faber telling him, “There isn’t room on the Boardwalk for another arcade.” Stan’s brother coolly replied, “You’d better shut yours down.” In those days, Coney Island was busy enough to accommodate more than one Fascination parlor. In addition to Faber’s, there was Moe’s Fascination operated by Moe and Sadie Silverman. There was Eddie’s Fascination. A lot of people ask Stan Fox, who was Eddie? If you know, please drop us a line. But Faber’s was the one with longevity. The location in the Henderson Building was operated by the Faber family until 1971 or 72.

“When Hy Singer bought the building he tripled the rent,” says Fox, who notes that Nat Faber’s son Stanford, then in his 40s, struggled to keep the business going. “I don’t know if it was the stress, but he had a stroke and a few weeks later he died.” While the game Fascination hasn’t been played at the Surf arcade for decades, the sign, and its twin, Faber’s Playland, remained. Somebody, anybody, please rescue the Fascination sign! We contacted Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, who assured us that this type of sign can be saved.

Last Night at Faber's Fascination

On Monday night, a skeleton surveyed the soon-to-be closed arcade. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Too bad the City doomed the Henderson building as well as the former Bank of Coney Island to demolition last July by rezoning the parcels for 30-story high rise “hotels.” If ATZ had a dollar for every time we’ve used the word “doomed” to describe a building owned by Joe Sitt, we could buy a round of Coney Island lagers for everyone in the Freak Bar and proceed to cry in our beer. Instead we urge you to join Save Coney Island’s David vs. Goliath effort to convince the powers that be to re-purpose the building as part of a historic district. Last month the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation wrote that “the historic core of Coney Island appears to meet the criteria for listing to the Registers as a historic district.”

UPDATE September 11, 2010:

Coney Island signage: Faber's Fascination signage coming down! Photo © missapril1956 via flickr

Coney Island signage: Faber's Fascination signage coming down! Photo © missapril1956 via flickr

As we noted yesterday in the comments below, the letters have been removed from the Fascination sign and the two Sportland signs! The signs are being dismantled piece by piece and saved from Thor’s demolition by Carl Muraco, who owns the arcade. He told ATZ that he plans to sell the letters and possibly the entire Fascination sign if there is a buyer for it. The arcade machines are also for sale. We hope that these Coney Island artifacts end up in the collections of people who appreciate them, including the Faber family. We’re happy the arcade owner was able to take down and “save” the signs from demolition. At the same time, it’s heartbreaking to see the building being emptied of tenants and stripped of its personality. The sign on Popeye’s was also removed. It makes the impending date with Thor Equities’ wrecking ball seem that much closer. As soon as the ongoing asbestos abatement is completed and certified, Thor will be able to get a demolition permit.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 29, 2011: Fascination: From Coney Island to Nantasket Beach

April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

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