Coney Island Memories 

An unused postcard I found in an old photo album, ?circa 1960's?, which reads:

"FIREWORKS DISPLAY, a weekly attraction, as seen from Surf Avenue, showing the Wonder Wheel, lights on the Bowery, the Thunderbolt Roller Coaster and Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, New York."


This is where it all started for me.  Coney Island was the place I first discovered arcades, and the only exposure I've ever had to actual boardwalk arcades.  I shot these pictures of what's left of Coney Island between 1999 and 2000, I think, using a Sony FD 7 digital Mavicam disc camera. As you will see, at this point, there wasn't much left of Coney Island still standing. It was in September, 2000, that the Thunderbolt rollercoaster and the abandoned Kensington Hotel underneath, were demolished.  Click HERE for more information about that. 

The final season for Coney Island as an amusement park is summer, 2007, including Astroland, home of the legendary Cyclone rollercoaster.  After that, it will all be demolished to make room for condominiums, etc, except the Cyclone, which was declared a landmark years ago.  After checking out these pics, check out my photos HERE, which I took in 2005 of the abandoned Playland arcade.  I made that site in an effort to save the original sign, but there were no takers. Anyway, hope you enjoy the pics, and as always, I welcome feedback or maybe stories you can share about Coney Island.  I am always looking for pics inside arcades, especially during the 70's. Email me anytime.

Some slides from around 100 years ago showing Coney Island in it's heyday. Click on any slide to enlarge the image.


A view from the window of a relative's apt. in Luna Park.  (I always called it Looney Park when I was a kid, no reason). 

Another shot without the tree in the way.  The Shore Hotel, formerly the Loew's Theater.  I thought I remembered this sign being lit up at night when I was a kid, but I might be wrong. 

Nathan's Hot Dogs.  World famous.  Behind it, you can see the Thunderbolt was still standing at this point, and even the sign saying no standing is still intact.  The Thunderbolt was closed in 1983.

I forget what this arcade used to be called when I was a kid.   Notice the retro signs, like freak show.   

A wider shot.   

"Bump your ass off."  When I was a kid, it was nonstop Donna Summer booming from this place on a Saturday night with some real bumper car action.  Around back, as of 2000, there was a killer arcade.  They had 2 Ms. Pac-man cabaret videogames, side by side at one point, but they were gone last time I was there in spring, 2006, along with all the pins, and everything was replaced with redemption games pretty much.   



Go up in this spinning whatever to the top of the tower and you can see for miles.  It's awesome.

Pretty desolate now, but in summer this place really cooks.

Astroland is pretty much what's left of a former dynasty.  I remember in the 80's there were these gangs, leather jackets, the works. There was a fight over somebody's woman, and at first there was shoving, then somebody pulled a knife. The cops showed up and broke up the fight, but I didn't stick around.  The police station, by the way, is just down the block.  Last time I went though, to Coney Island, in summertime, during the summer of '99, more cops than ever, and the boardwalks have been filled with sand underneath, so much of the crime is gone. Just don't wander off the boardwalk at night if you can help it.

A distant shot of Astroland Park, the other end of the park.  When I was a kid, I was always wondering when they were going to launch that rocket.










A shot of the park as the sun comes out over the ocean.

The Cyclone can be seen in the distance.  There's a great PBS documentary called "Great Old Amusement Parks" which shows a look at the history of The Cyclone, and how it was overhauled many many years ago, to avoid being demolished.  You can find this on Ebay on dvd.  

The New York Aquarium.  When I was a kid, it was barely half that size and no shell thingy, which is actually an open arena like structure you can enter from the park to watch the dolphins perform.  Basically, New York Aquarium is Sea World on a smaller scale.  When the Cyclone was declared a landmark, that stopped the aquarium from growing out any further, but now the entire Astroland area as seen in the previous pic will be demolished as I mentioned, after summer, 2007, with the exception of the Cyclone.


Here's a great shot of the Cyclone. If you look closely on the far right, out in the ocean, you can see a ship passing by.  If you can see that, you don't need glasses.