Ask Mr. Coney Island

Answers from the expert

Do you have a question for Mr. Coney Island?  Email it to ask@coneyislandhistory.org.

posted on Mar 3rd, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
My aunt Anna owned the pizza place on the boardwalk right next to the bungalow's at 32nd Street. She sold the place sometime in the 90's when she was in her late 90's herself . I wanted to get as much info asIi could or even some old pics of the place. The family moved to NJ and I can't find them... I spent a lot of time there when I was younger.
- Chuck Randazo

Hello Chuck,

Larry and Vinny's was an Icon to anyone who grew up in the West End of Coney Island during the 1950s-1960s. Here are some photos of Larry and Vinny's shortly before Anna retired at the age of 94. She operated the restaurant for 50 years and it was the last of the West End boardwalk establishments. Pictured are Anna and Robert (dough in hands); Andy "(The Bat") Adams striking a pose, Anna with her incredible pizza; The last days of the store in 1994, and again, shortly before the abandoned building burned to the ground in 2005.

Anna died in New Jersey at the age of 101. She is missed.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I was wondering, could you tell me where a 12-year-old girl would have gone to Junior High School if she lived on West 21st Street between Mermaid Ave. and Neptune Ave. in 1925? Where could I find information about school life in Coney Island during the 1920s? Thank you!
- Hunter O'Rourke

Hello Hunter,

She probably would have attended PS 80 on West 17th Street or PS 188 on Neptune Avenue near Sea Gate. There was no Junior High in the 1920s.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
My grandmother lived on W 32 St betw Mermaid and Surf Avenues and I spent a lot of time there in the 50’s as a young boy. I remember a very large, old even then, Victorian house w/ turrets on the NW corner of Surf and W 32. It was always scary to me. It was just across W 32 from the closed Surf Theater. Would you happen to know anything about it or possibly a photo? Thanks for your help.
- Eric Schwelke

Hello Eric,

The building was an old rooming house called the Wave Crest that stood abandoned for many years. It was demolished around 1958. Here is a photograph of the building when it was in operation, circa 1920.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Is that the Thunderbolt on the left in a picture of Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe published in USA Today dated 26 Jan 2009? I believe thay are at the west end of the bowery also on the right was a spook ride if my memory serves me right. Thank You!
- Coney Fan

Hello Coney Fan,

Yes, that is the Thunderbolt. They were standing on West 16th Street and the dark ride across from the Thunderbolt was the Tunnel of Laffs.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Do you have any pictures of the old school PS 80. It was on West 18th Street. I went to school there back in 1967. Thank you very much.
- Romerojojo2000

Hello Romero,

Here's a photo from our archive. We hope it brings back memories!

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Would you remember the Memorial Post which was on I think 17th street and Surf Ave. It was a newer building around 1962. We had a Drum Corp called the Surfsiders under their Sponsorship. We would have parades and compete against other Drum Corps. We would always have Nathans Catered after every event. We originally would practice opposite Nathans which was next to the Movie RKO theatre. We were upstairs where I learned to play in this Band. 1960 was the year.
- Coney Fan

 Hello Coney Fan,

Here is a photograph of the Jewish War Veteran's Memorial Post on Surf Avenue at West 19th Street. It is no longer standing.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I was wondering if you had any Photos or info on the Lido Bar & Grill. This was my Grandparents on the Boardwalk from 1920's to 1959. Thanks!
- Marc Arniotes

Hello Marc,

Here is a photo of the Lido taken during its last days, circa 1973.

posted on Jan 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I have several vague memories of going to Coney Island in the late 1950s or early 1960s with my father. One is of a cowboy singer in a bar called the Atlantis. Another is of an animal nursery. And most vague is a boardwalk concession that had a number of soda vending machines. Do you have any information to flesh out these memories? Thanks.
- Ed Yutkowitz

Hello Ed,

You have a good memory.

Sodamat was located on the Boardwalk at West 15th Street and it burned down in 1973; Murray Zarret's Animal Nursery was located on Surf Avenue and West 5th Street (pictured) and then moved to Surf and Stillwell; the Atlantis is now Cha-Cha's nightclub on the Boardwalk at Stillwell. Here are some photos to jog your memory.

posted on Nov 8th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I am trying to work out where on Coney Island the great James J Jeffries fought Bob Fitzsimmons, Tom Sharkey and James J Corbett between June 9 1899 and May 11 1900. I know they took place in the Coney Island Athletic Club, but where is that located now? I am a big fan of boxing, living in the United Kingdom. I am hoping to visit the USA to see some of the significant sites in the country. I am interested in visiting Coney Island because it is the first place a heavyweight championship fight took place in New York. My visit is a pilgrimage to the Jack Johnson vs James J Jeffries fight that took place in Reno Nevada on July 4 1910. I look forward to hearing from you.
- Glenn Wilson

Hi Glenn,

The Coney Island Athletic Club (also known as the Coney Island Sporting Club) opened in 1897 in the former Bauer's Casino bathhouse. The 10,000 seat barn-like building was located between Surf Avenue and the ocean at West 8th Street where the New York Aquarium parking lot is now located. The Jim Jeffries vs.Tom Sharkey heavyweight bout, fought at the club on November 3, 1899, was the first fight ever filmed.

posted on Oct 13th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
In the early '30's my dad lived in Coney Island, my grandfather, Alessandro Barboni had a restaurant (no one can remember what is was called or where it was). We believe that he (my grandfather) may have had a partnership with Guffanti's. Was there ever a Guffanti's at Coney Island? If so, where was it located. Grandpa closed up shop and moved in around 1932. Thanks for your help.
- Liz

Hello Liz,

Here is a photograph of Guffanti's Inn at Coney Island and an earlier advertisement.