Deno’s Wonder Wheel courtesy of kzoop’s Flickr
While New Yorkers have been celebrating the historic seaside resort all summer long, this weekend the Coney Island History Project is hosting its seventh annual history day. On Saturday, August 5, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., attendees can learn about all of the classic rides and attractions of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, take a self-guided tour, and listen to free folksy music. Since it was built in 1920, more than 40 million people have experienced the park’s iconic Wonder Wheel.
On June 26, 1927 the Coney Island Cyclone opened in Brooklyn. The iconic wooden coaster, located on the corner of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street, is one of the oldest functional amusement rides in the United States. While it only cost $.25 to ride when it first opened, today it costs about $10. Found at Luna Park, the coaster takes you over 2,640 feet of track at 60 miles per hour, with 12 drops (the highest an 85-foot, 60-degree plunge) and 27 elevation changes in roughly two minutes.
See a historic video of the coaster in action
On this day in 1884, the country’s first roller coaster opened at Coney Island, sparking Americans’ obsession with amusement rides. Invented by LaMarcus Thompson, the ride, called the Switchback Railway, spanned 600 feet and traveled just six miles per hour. Unlike today’s coasters, the Switchback did not make a round trip loop, and passengers exited at the end of the track. The one-minute long ride cost only five cents.
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Born and raised in Coney Island, there was never a photographer better primed to capture the neighborhood’s vibrancy than Harold Feinstein. “I like to think I fell out of the womb on to the fun park’s giant Parachute Jump while eating a Nathan’s hot dog,” he told The Guardian in 2014, just before his passing in 2015. Indeed, Feinstein would take his first photo (using a Rolleiflex borrowed from a neighbor) at age 15 in 1946, beginning what would become an unwavering love affair with documenting the whizz, whirl and insatiable life that permeated his beachside locale. Although Feinstein would eventually move on to other subjects in various parts of New York City and the globe, over his nearly 70-year career he would always return to Coney Island for inspiration. “Coney Island was my Treasure Island,” he said.
Feinstein’s Coney Island photos cover more than five decades, but ultimately his 1940s and 1950s snapshots–those taken when he was just a teenager–would cement his status as one of the most important photographers recording life in post-war America. Ahead, the Harold Feinstein Photography Trust shares highlights from this collection.
see the photos here
Photo via NYCEDC
It’s been more than 60 years since Childs Restaurant left its historic home on the Coney Island boardwalk, but on Sunday the landmarked building will reopen as a massive new food and beverage concept called Kitchen 21 (h/t Eater). The formerly vacant and deteriorating space was redeveloped through a $60 million joint investment among the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Legends Hospitality (who run the dining programs at One World Trade Center and Yankee Stadium), and Cravable Hospitality Group (of David Burke Kitchen). It will hold five separate restaurants, all peddling “summer-friendly fare”: casual take-out spot Coney Island Café; beer and seafood spot Community Clam Bar; gastropub Parachute Bar; rooftop wine bar Boardwalk & Vine; and a more formal restaurant called Test Kitchen.
All the details ahead
Cycling culture in New York City has been a growing trend for over 20 years. However, its popularity and the bike lanes of modern day New York have yet to reach the impressive status of Coney Island’s 1920s bicycle racing Velodrome. The Velodrome was a wooden racetrack that seated approximately 10,000 people, each of whom came to cheer or jeer the area’s best cyclists.
more details here
Hold onto your hats, friends, because Coney Island is getting another 150,000 square feet of fun and amusement. On Monday, The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation put out a request for proposals (RFP) for new rides, games and other attractions to be located on five vacant, city-owned parcels bound by Surf Avenue and the Coney Island Boardwalk. The sites are highly covetable and sit in the midst existing offers like Luna Park and, of course, the iconic Wonder Wheel.
more details here
Developer John Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group has filed plans for a 21-story tower on a Surf Avenue parcel that he purchased last summer according to Brooklyn Daily; the tower is part of a three-building Coney Island project that will likely include 415 apartments and retail. In the billionaire grocery mogul’s typically patient fashion, he has slowly been acquiring the Boardwalk-adjacent lots between West 35th and West 37th streets for the project, called Ocean Dreams, since 2005.
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Image via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park
Since it opened on the Coney Island boardwalk in 1920, the landmarked Wonder Wheel has given more than 35 million rides. If you want to add to this number, a press release from Deno’s Wonder Wheel tells us that it will offer free rides from 6 to 10pm on New Year’s Eve. They’ll also charge only $5 from 11am to 2pm on New Year’s Day to coincide with the annual Polar Bear Plunge (50 percent of January 1st’s profits will go to the Plunge’s charity Camp Sunshine).
Robert S. Trump (Donald’s much lesser known younger brother) sold Coney Island‘s Trump Village Shopping Center in the early 2000s to developer Rubin Schron of Cammeby’s International Group, who, in 2014, publicized plans to replace the center with a 40-story mixed-use tower. Despite opposition from the community, the project is moving ahead, as Yimby has revealed renderings from S9 Architecture of the 430-foot-tall building at 532 Neptune Avenue that’s been dubbed Neptune/Sixth. When complete, it will be the tallest residential tower in South Brooklyn, offering 544 apartments, a retail and community facility base, and a public courtyard.
More renderings and details