Archive for the tag 'coney island history project'


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)


The Coney Island History Project and Urban Neighborhood Services are hosting a slideshow presentation by Charles Denson titled “The History of Coney Island’s West End and the Presence and Contributions of African Americans in Coney Island from the 1600s to the Present.”The slideshow will feature never-before-seen images from Charles Denson’s archive and photos that he took in the 1970s.

U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Coney Island’s first African American Congressman, will be a special guest.

“The West End of Coney Island is a vibrant and resilient community that’s survived many challenges over the last few decades,” said Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson. “I grew up there and documented the wave of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s that transformed our community and changed the lives of its residents. This slide show will tell the story of the area going back to 1600s.”

I, for one, have always been kind of curious about the West End, which sticks out from the rest of Southern Brooklyn both figuratively and in terms of demographics and culture. It’ll be interesting to check this out.

Here’s one of Denson’s great photos from that era:


Source: intweetion via

After Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island, the  effort to rebuild the beachfront and the boardwalk has led to a slew of businesses planting their flag on the cleaned up shoreline. The New York Daily News is reporting on the increased corporate presence on Coney Island that is hoping to transform the area into an economic goldmine.

Previously, we reported on the arrival of Applebee’s to Coney Island and the boast from CEO Zane Tankel:

“Imagine sitting above the excitement of Surf Avenue, watching the comings and goings on the infamous Coney Island Boardwalk while dining on Applebee’s signature favorites,” Tankel said in a release.

Outside of Applebee’s, which is about as hip as a root canal, other establishments like candy chain “It’Sugar,” which sells a $40 five-pound gummy bear, are popping up as well. If you buy the five-pound gummy bear, I’d watch out for bees. Not the gummy kind.

In 2014, the Johnny Rockets diner chain will be moving to Coney along with a Red Mango frozen yogurt shop. The Brooklyn Nets have also opened their own athletic sports store featuring $85 bikinis brandishing the new basketball team’s logo on the tops and bottoms. Next to the Nets shop, the Bridgehampton-based Wampum skate shop will be selling fashionable clothing and expensive skate boards for more than $200.

Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project, proclaimed that Coney Island has become the hot new real estate location in the city.

“Speculation has returned to Coney Island. It is the Gold Rush mentality,” Denson told the Daily News.

As for fears that the new corporate footprint will drive out the proud mom-and-pop stores still dotting the boardwalk, local business owners seemed not to worry.

 “It’s Coney Island. As long as it’s sunny, everyone is making money,” said Peter Agrapides Jr., whose popular Williams Candy Shoppe is known for scrumptious, guilty pleasures like the candy-covered marshmallows in its window.

“There is plenty of money for everybody,” Agrapides added. “You just have to know what you are doing.”

Only time will tell if the effort to increase the profitability and tourist friendliness of Coney Island will be sustainable but with the beach and boardwalk looking immaculate these days, it’s hard to bet against it.

Source: Thirsty Girl Productions

It’s time to get your history on and tap into your databank of Coney Island trivia during the Second Annual History Day at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and The Coney Island History Project, tomorrow, August 11 (rain date: August 12), from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Everything old will be new again—especially if you dress in classic Roaring Twenties garb, which will entitle you to one free ride on the Wonder Wheel, so break out those spats, cloche hats and flapper dresses and get ready to do the Charleston.

Live Entertainment

Shake your booty with NYC’s legendary Hungry March Band, satisfy your soul with Ragtime and Dixieland from The Banjo Rascals and let loose with Benjamin Ickies & The Coney Island Screamers, who attack Golden Age Circus Music with a Rock ‘n Roll attitude. The always-amazing Lady Circus will also be on tap.

Performances and events will be held at The Wonder Wheel, at The Coney Island History Project, 3059 West 12th Street off the Boardwalk, and throughout Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

Plus: Ride The Wonder Wheel and receive a nostalgic Coney Island commemorative gift and have a chance to take your photo with old timey cutouts for free.

Live History

Test your Coney Island smarts at the Coney Island Trivia Contest with historian and author Charles Denson. Prizes include ride passes for Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and souvenir postcards. You are invited to come and record your memories for the History Projects oral History Archive if you have a Coney Island story to share.

The public can also participate in Deno’s Draw-a-thon. Adults and kids are invited to draw a picture of the landmark Wonder Wheel, which will then become part of an online photo exhibit. Crayons and paper will be provided.

Additionally, a new exhibit on the cultural history of Coney Island’s bathhouses and the art of bathhouse key tags will open on History Day at the Coney Island History Project. There were once more than 50 bathhouses of all kinds lining the beach at Coney Island.

A century ago bathhouses provided the only access to the beach and, for many, a home away from home. Now hardly anyone knows what a bathhouse is. The shorefront facilities were a popular cultural phenomenon, providing entertainment, lockers, changing rooms, showers, swim suit rentals, steam baths, massive salt water pools, athletic equipment, game courts, restaurants, and fenced wooden decks for nude sunbathing.

This exhibit provides a history told in photographs, admission tickets, oral history, and the folk art of bathhouse key tags.

Celebrate Coney Island’s history and have a chance to make some of your own. This daylong event is not to be missed.

For more, go to and

File:Dreamland Fighting-the-Flames2a.jpg

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Once upon a time, long before Thor Equities, the Coney Island Cyclone, and even before Rabbi Abraham Abraham came into the world, there was Dreamland, an aptly-named Coney Island amusement park, which served as one of the area’s purveyors of “(relatively) high-class entertainment, with elegant architecture, pristine white towers and some educational exhibits along with the rides and thrills.”

Keep reading about the upcoming tours of a new historic Dreamland exhibit in Coney Island.

(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)