Archive for the tag 'astroland'


The rocket returns! Last night, the rocket was trucked into Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. (Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

For the first time in five years, the most prominent symbol of Coney Island’s Astroland – the amusement park’s iconic rocket ship – has returned to the People’s Playground for display.

The Coney Island History Project announced this morning that the Astroland Rocket Ship was trucked back into the amusement district overnight after the group assumed control of the relic several days ago.

The rocket is the only surviving space “simulators” that once proliferated in Coney Island between the early 20th Century and the space age, the Coney Island History Project said. The organization won their bid to repurpose the “Star Flyer” – as it was originally known – as the centerpiece of a new exhibit about Coney Island’s space obsession throughout history.

The Star Flyer debuted in 1962 as a three-minute, 26-seat ride that rocked and shook thrill-seekers as they watched films of rocket rides. It was taken offline years later, and was later placed on the roof of boardwalk restaurant Gregory and Paul’s where, along with the Cyclone, Parachute Jump and Wonder Wheel, it became a staple of the playground’s skyline.


(Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

“Outer space simulators have played a prominent role in Coney’s amusement history,” said Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project and author of Coney Island: Lost and Found. “It began when Thompson and Dundy brought ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to Steeplechase Park in 1902 and culminated in 1962, at the height of the space race, with Astroland’s Moon Rocket. The ride provided visitors with an exciting taste of intergalactic travel. The Astroland Rocket has now returned to a place of honor beside the landmark Wonder Wheel, where it will be restored as an exhibit showcasing Coney Island’s fascination with space travel.”

When Astroland closed in 2008 to make way for Luna Park, Carol and Jerry Albert, the former park’s owners, donated the rocket to the city with the promise of making the centerpiece of the new amusement district.

The city put out a request for proposals to reactivate the icon, and the History Project answered and won the bid. The rocket will be in the group’s exhibit center in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and the cost of its move was covered by Carol Albert.

Wonder Wheel owners Steve and Dennis Vourderis plan to make it the centerpiece of their park’s annual celebration on August 9, and they’ll also oversee its restoration after it was seriously damaged during Superstorm Sandy. The rocket has spent most of the past five years in storage.


(Photo by Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project)

Source: Barry Yanowitz via flickr

Source: Barry Yanowitz via flickr

The Astrotower, which is known to all observant Coney Island regulars to sway in the wind at times, was swaying a little more than usual yesterday, spooking Luna Park patrons and forcing an evacuation of the area. The New York Times reported that police and firefighters cordoned off an area surrounding the tower so engineers could perform an inspection.

Luna Park was closed, as was the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and a broad stretch of Surf Avenue. FDNY responded promptly, then called in Department of Buildings engineers to inspect. The engineers, however, took hours to arrive, leaving would-be parkgoers to stand around and scratch their heads, and perhaps send out a few panicked tweets.

The 272-foot tall tower has stood tall over the Coney Island boardwalk since the early 1960s, once giving passengers a ride to the top in the “big bagel in the sky” observation apparatus. Now the tower stands as a sort of ornamental remnant of an era when interest in all things outer-space dominated the popular consciousness. The tower, according to “unofficial mayor of Coney Island” Dick Zigun, sways all the time.

“Maybe six times a year it sways to the point where it would shock you if you didn’t know better,” Zigun told the Daily News.

Yeshiva World News was the first to dig up this 2010 YouTube video, showing the Astrotower doing just that:

Apparently, the sight of the swaying tower spooked nervous patrons, unfamiliar with the attraction’s semi-normal behavior, into calling authorities.

DOB reps said Tuesday night that they found no immediate risk of danger or instability, but were continuing to evaluate the structure anyway. It was previously inspected just after Superstorm Sandy, and the donut-shaped observation deck was removed after a window panel fell off during the storm.

Source: intweetion via Flickr

Get ready to spin, twirl and fly again this Sunday as many famous Coney Island attractions are set to open for the first time since Superstorm Sandy caused millions of dollars of damage to the landmark, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

The world-famous amusement area of Coney Island will open with a victorious hot-dog eating contest at a satellite Nathan’s Famous located on the boardwalk. The Nathan’s HQ on the corner of Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenue is still undergoing repairs but is expected to be in operation for the annual July 4 hot-dog eating championship. A banner hangs defiantly over the iconic frankfurter mecca carrying this message:

“After 100 years, no hurricane will keep us down.”

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was soaked with $1 million in damages but that beautiful red and blue wheel will be spinning proud come Sunday.

“They’ve been cleaning, repairing and replacing,” said Ken Hochman, a spokesman for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park told the Daily News.

Not everyone will be parading through Luna Park and the Wonder Wheel complex with glee come Sunday. Todd Dobrin, an activist and president of the “Friends of Coney Island Boardwalk,” plans to protest this Sunday as the area’s library, community centers and post office still remain closed post-Sandy.

Photo by Rafi Greenstein. It was taken on the supposed last day of Astroland. Can you identify the people in the photo?

(Why not both for Lundy’s — except with a less tacky sign)

…or a combination of the two.

It’s that time of the year when we say, “Out with the old and in with the new.” It gets hard to say, “out with the old” when it means saying goodbye to some of our venerable institutions. It’s even harder to say, “in with the new” when new means ridding our neighborhoods of their charm. The institutions I’m thinking of are Lundy’s and Astroland.

Last week, after years of controversy, Coney Island fans’ greatest fear was realized when, as reported, they awoke to find huge “For Lease” signs on “every building on the boardwalk”. A NY Post article said that the storefronts were “flooded” with ‘For Rent’ signs, while the pictures posted on Curbed showed many of the stores appearing flooded in a literal sense.

Read more about 2008 controversies after the jump.
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(Coney Island Shrine – Courtesy of Tricia Vita)

Everyone is invited to meet at the Astroland Park gates on New Year’s Day for an opportunity to share the loss of Coney Island, as we know it, with others in a memorial event and to add to a shrine.

Here is the letter we received from the memorial organizer.

Dear Friends,

Today a friend and I made a shrine on Astroland’s Boardwalk gates. In the photos you can see our collage and a bouquet of flowers. There’s also a banner, off to the right, that people can sign. Feel free to contribute photos, drawings, letters, poems, flowers and mementos.

All items should be weather proofed with plastic sheet protectors! If you cannot go to Coney, please post your virtual contributions on the thread on the Coney Island USA Message Board. Many of us will be going to Coney on New Year’s Day. We will try to print out as many as possible and add them to the shrine at Astroland’s gates.

I look forward to seeing many of you on New Year’s Day!

All the best,
Tricia Vita

We had some pretty chilly temperatures this week and don’t you wish it was still summer? If it was still summer, you would probably be heading out to Coney Island on this Friday night for some fireworks, fun, and rides at Astroland Park (nice to see the website is still up) in Coney Island. But, it’s cold outside, Coney Island is closed for the season, Astroland is closed forever, and very little is left of the greatness that was once the greatest amusement park in the world.

Take heart, though, because on this, the Friday before Thanksgiving Thursday, you can still get a little fix of Coney Island fun – but, this time with a little seriousness added in the mix.

Documentary filmmaker, Peter LiPera, presents his film Save Coney Island, The Movie, at the Big Apple Film Festival tonight at 8:15 p.m.

Head on out to the famous Tribeca Cinemas in Manhattan and see what happens when Amos Wengler, notorious Coney Island-lover, performer, and Polar Bear Club member, gets inspired to write a song about his fast-fading memories. Amos is not afraid to take a weekly swim in the Coney Island winter waters and he’s not afraid to challenge Thor Equities, the real estate developers threatening to rid his beloved amusement park of its last bit of charm.

So, step right up, get your tickets, and come to Coney Island…I mean, come see a film about Coney Island.

Save Coney Island – The Movie
Filmmaker: Peter LiPera
Friday, November 21, 2008, 8:15 p.m.
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street (at Laight st)
New York, NY 10013

Screening cost: Program 11: $20
Ticket cost includes admission to the opening and closing night parties and are available online at the Big Apple Film Festival website or at the door.
Price includes admission to opening & closing night parties

(Photo courtesy of Coney Island History Project)

…carnival barking, that is.

We love to take a bite into a little nostalgia, especially when it involves our sister neighborhood, Coney Island. How many of you can remember the days of Coney Island when it was the newborn apple of the Big Apple’s eye? Well, with all of the controversy surrounding the fate of Sheepshead Bay’s very own backyard carnival, we all could do with a little reminiscing about its history. This Saturday, August 2, as The Coney Island History Project opens up its new exhibit, you will get just that kind of opportunity. On display will be photographs of Astroland since the Albert family gave it birth. Unlike the rides at Astroland, the exhibit is free – so a megaphone will not be needed to get the crowds in and we, here, at Sheepshead Bites don’t mind putting ahold on biting so that we can start barking this one out: [begin playing ‘Over the Waves’ on the old time Wurlitzer] “Step right up…come one and come all! Coney Island is Back – and Back to the Future!”

Where: The Coney Island History Project’s Exhibition Center under the Cyclone Roller Coaster, 1000 Surf Avenue, just east of 10th St.
Phone: (718) 266-0012

When: Saturday, August 2 – Monday, September 1
Hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1pm – 6pm
Open Labor Day (Mon, 9/1)