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Posts Tagged ‘Feltman’s’

Astroland sign from Neptune's Flume

Astroland sign from Neptune’s Flume. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

This set of photos was taken five years ago– January 31, 2009–on Astroland’s very last day. It was as bitter cold as it is today. In the months after the park closed in September 2008, the rides and games were dismantled and trucked away. According to the terms of Astroland’s lease extension with Thor Equities, the property had to vacated by February 1st. Amusing the Zillion did not debut until April 2009, but we posted these pix along with our thoughts on flickr:

I expected my Jan 28th visit to Astroland to be my last visit (see set). But I had some business in the area so I stopped by Astroland on Jan 31. By then there wasn’t much left and I didn’t have the heart to take more than a half dozen or so photos. Jan 31 was Astroland’s very last day, the day the lease expired and the property had to be vacated.

On Feb 1, 2009, the Astroland property became the former site of Astroland Park. Since then I refer to it as Thorland after Thor Equities. Others call it Sittville or Sittland East after Thor CEO Joe Sitt. The predatory real estate speculator who owns the 3-acre site is pressuring the city to allow for time-share high rises and shopping mall style retail. Astroland, and now the Boardwalk businesses threatened by huge Thor Space for Lease signs, are pawns or hostages in Thor’s high stakes game with the City. The City’s controversial rezoning of the C-7 amusement district is currently underway.

Abandoned old arcade machines

Abandoned old arcade machines on last day of Astroland. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the items that remained and were about to be thrown into a dumpster were these broken old arcade machines. Boxing machines manufactured by Zamperla! Ironically, the parks division of Zamperla would build Luna Park on the former Astroland site in 2010, after this lot and other boardwalk property was bought by the City from Thor Equities for $95.6 million.

Astroland's American flag

Rescuing Astroland’s American flag – where will she wave? January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Jeff rescues Astroland’s American flag, which flew from the Astrotower, from soon to be Thorland. Astroland’s signs and rides are safe in storage. NOT sold to Australia or anywhere else, not yet! Perhaps the reconfigured “Astroland,” signs and all, will be able to return to a new location or its old location (if Sitt sells to the city) in Coney Island? That would be a “long shot” (Astroland owner’s words in the press). But I don’t think we should give up hope completely if the owner still has hope. Some of Astroland’s historic signs were rescued today by the Coney Island History Project.

Astroland signage

Rescuing signage from Astroland’s water flume. January 21, 2009

Home of the hot dog? This building has been used as a workshop for the last forty-some years. Astroland workers swept up for the last time on Jan 31, 2009 before vacating the property. I took these photos for my friend “Coney Islander.” who says the tiles are not only Coney Island history, but American history too. He wanted a tile as a keepsake, but we couldn’t find a loose one.

tile floor in the old Feltman's Kitchen

Home of the hot dog? The tile floor in the old Feltman’s Kitchen Bldg was swept on Astroland’s last day. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Of course “the first hot dog” was invented when Feltman was pushing a pie wagon in the 1860s. But the building is all that remains of Feltman’s empire in Coney Island. The floor definitely has character. It has a story to tell. We just have to figure out what it is. Sometimes if the true story isn’t known, an apochryphal one fills the vacuum. The floor looks so old it’s easy to imagine the original hot dog falling on it. It may be doubtful as history goes, but captures the imagination.

The story unfolded a year later, when the building was being demolished to make way for Luna Park: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition, (ATZ, January 19, 2010)

Tile floor in Feltman's Kitchen, Coney Island

Tile floor swept clean in historic Feltman’s kitchen on Astroland property. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

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

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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

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On Saturday we chatted with Luke Stangarone in front of Coney Island USA, where he was cleaning a stained glass window, one of two which the Sheepshead Bay resident is donating to the Coney Island Museum. Rescued from three feet of mud in a Park Slope basement, the windows originally came from Coney Island’s Feltman’s complex, says Stangarone. The tantalizing question is which part of Feltman’s? Stangarone speculates the windows could be from the ballroom or the carousel pavilion. He says that his wife’s relatives, the Whittakers, worked at the Parachute Jump and rescued the artifacts from Feltman’s demolition more than 50 years ago. Can you help identify this window into Coney Island’s past?

Charles Feltman is famous as the inventor of the hot dog, but his entertainment complex on Surf Avenue was multi-faceted and covered a full city block. According to the Coney Island History Project, which has a 120-year-old chair from Feltman’s Maple Garden on display, the Feltman empire included nine restaurants, two bars, a ballroom, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a beer garden, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a Tyrolean village, a carousel, a roller coaster called the ZIZ and the maple garden! Since Feltman’s closed in 1954 and was demolished to make way for Astroland Park in 1962, you’d have be over 60 to remember going there. Perhaps someone will recognize the window from family photos that show the stained glass window in the background. Let us know if you have any clues!

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

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

November 16, 2009: Rare & Vintage: Coney Island Sideshow Banner by Dan Casola

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Feltman's Kitchen on Astroland - Scheduled for Demolition. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Feltman's Kitchen on Astroland - Scheduled for Demolition. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

The old Feltman’s kitchen building on the Astroland site is among the structures set to be demolished to make way for new amusements on the City-owned parcel. This humble building is the last remnant of the fabulous block-long restaurant and entertainment empire owned by Charles Feltman, the inventor of the hot dog.

According to Ric Burns’s movie about Coney Island, Nathan Handwerker worked in Feltman’s kitchen and slept on the floor for a year before he went on to found Nathan’s Famous! Since Feltman’s consisted of nine restaurants, a beer garden, a maple garden and much more, we can’t be sure where Handwerker bedded down. But we think the phrases “Nathan Slept Here!” and “The hot dog was invented here!” have tourism potential. Shouldn’t the City be renovating Feltman’s Kitchen as a little museum and hot dog stand instead of tearing it down?

Asbestos abatement has already started according to“Capt Nemo,” who posted photos of the work site on the Coney Island Message Board. A notice lists the owner of the historic property referred to now as “Parcel A” as “NYCEDC, New York City Economic Development Corporation- Coney Island Amusements.” The Amphitheater building (site of Astroland’s Diving Bell), Westside building (Feltman’s kitchen), an electrical shed and a trailer are on the list of locations to be abated.

Tile floor in historic Feltman's kitchen on Astroland property, Jan 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Tile floor in historic Feltman's kitchen on Astroland property, Jan 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The photos reminded us that last January we took pix of the tiles in the old Feltman’s kitchen for our friend “Coney Islander.” It was the last day of Astroland before the property was to be turned over to Thor Equities. “Coney Islander” wanted a tile as a keepsake, but we couldn’t find a loose one. Our friend said the tiles were not only Coney Island history, but American history too: “The first hot dog might have fallen on that floor!” Of course “the first hot dog” was invented by Charles Feltman in 1867 when he was pushing a pie wagon. But the building is all that remains of Feltman’s in Coney Island. The floor definitely has character. It has a story to tell. We just had to figure out what it was. Sometimes if the full story isn’t known, an apocryphal one fills the vacuum. The floor looks so old it’s easy to imagine the original hot dog falling on it.

One year later, we have the full story. It’s titled “Nathan Slept Here!” In 1915, Nathan Handwerker, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, went to work for Feltman, who was by then the proprietor of a palatial sit-down restaurant at Surf Ave and 10th Street. Handwerker’s job was slicing hot dog rolls and delivering the franks to the guys who toiled at the grilling stations. The young man lived on free hot dogs and slept on the kitchen floor to save his $11 per week salary. At the end of the year, he’d saved $300 and opened a competing stand–5 cents a hot dog instead of 10 cents. That was the beginning of Nathan’s Famous and the downfall of Feltman’s, which went out of business in 1952. The property was sold to the Albert family and became the space-age Astroland Park in the early 1960s. For nearly 50 years, Feltman’s kitchen has survived as a workshop for Astroland’s rides.

Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 21, 2010: Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg

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

December 18, 2009: Ciao Coney Island! Will Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Astrotower & Other Oldies Survive?

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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