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June 23, 2007

Coney Island's Cyclone roller coaster turns 80

Cyclone Sign, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Happy 80th, Cyclone!

Just in time for the Mermaid Parade.

Check back for parade pics. This may be the last Mermaid Parade before Coney Island is bulldozed for condos.


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C'mon Lindsay

Coney Island will not be bulldozed for condos.

It will be redeveloped, because, after well over fifty years of decline, it must be redeveloped if it is to survive as anything of note.

I worked at Nathan's Coney Island and at other places on Coney Island during the 1970s. I saw the then accelerating decline from a front row seat. It was not pretty.

Coney Island can't possibly stay the same. It will evolve into something different, because it must. Back in its true hayday, noone had air conditioning, or even TV. Now, everyone has those things, and you can't recreate something that NYC no longer needs.

The redevelopment plans look exciting. It's outrageous, as Coney Island always was.

I wish the developer good luck. The people I know from that area like the current plan, as do the big majority of Brooklyn residents who I've discussed it with.

Again, it cannot and will not stay the same. If you have another vision, say what it is. The City and this proposal's opponents have done nothing for 50 years, but are all critical when someone wants to do something.

As a child I lived just a few blocks down the beach from the now long gone Playland-At-The Beach in San Francisco. I remember a cold wind once blowing my cotton candy apart. In college I lived a few blocks away from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, celebrating its centennial this year, and now the only Coney-Island style beach amusement park left on the West Coast. Too crowded for me in summer, but in winter to eat a hot dog in the fog and wind, on the empty, slightly run-down and forlorn boardwalk, is to experience a little slice of paradise. Part of the thrill of riding the roller coaster there (and in Santa Cruz it can sometimes be done in thick, cold fog!) is knowing that the salt air has been corroding every board, bolt and nail since before you were even born. The wooden structure gives the ride a terrifying and very satisfactory rattling roar.

State/county fair roller coasters have the same sort of thrill: you know they’ve been hurriedly assembled by carnies on a groggy morning after an all-night drive from God-knows-where, fueled on coffee, cigarettes and perhaps a little meth. I’ve never been to one of the big, new, squeaky-clean theme parks: I’m guessing there are no cigarette butts on the ground or beer cans in the trash, so I’m not interested.

Should you be in the neighborhood, check out the palace pier in Brighton, England; another fabulous and tacky seaside amusement venue. They actually got busted a couple years ago for running a ride with pieces of the track missing!

(from above) ... "The redevelopment plans [for Coney Island] look exciting."

What _plans_?

Yeah, Coney Island could use a makeover. But so far, the new Astroland's owner's ideas only include luxury condos (as Lyndsay stated) and a vague reference to possible year-round attractions like an indoor swim park.

Taconic Partners seems to have a somewhat even-handed approach to Coney Island redevelopment. And one developer, Joe Sitt, has a possibly intriguing _concept_ -- though the rest of his Thor Equities hasn't bought into the grand idea yet, making it more likely the area could end up a giant Vegas-y shopping mall.
But Sitt's company is only one of many that have been buying up the land there in recent years. Then there's the city of Brooklyn's rein on the site.

All this hardly sounds like we're in for a modern-day equivalent of Dreamland or Luna Park. I still think they should have let the KFC guy rebuild Steeplechase Park. And I'm still hoping the final plan will have some vision and incorporate existing landmarks like the Cyclone.

PS - I don't hear anyone (besides developers) clamoring for more luxury condos. Do you?

Hooray Henry

Flavor of the month

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