Ask Mr. Coney Island

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posted on Aug 19th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Hi I remember as a pre-teen in the early 70's a large yellow slide ride next to the parachute ride.  It was already closed when we as kids discovered it but found a hole in the fence and with a piece of rug slid down this slide all day long.  Would you have any pics of the slide with the parachute ride in it?  I also remember a piece of plywood being removed from the base of the parachute ride and going into the platform finding very old tickets which my younger brother doesn't believe we did.  Would you have any pics of the parachute ride during the early 70's?  I remember thick cables attached to the tower that might have been attached to keep it stable.  Thank you.
- Jeanett Russo

Hello Jeanett,

You remember correctly. Here's a photograph of the abandoned slide next to the Parachute Jump taken around 1971.

The cables were hanging loose from the top and swinging in the wind. It was easy to get into the parachute base through the open door, and, yes, there were piles of old tickets on the floor. There was also an old safe and some burned silk parachutes.

Hope this answers your question.

posted on May 4th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I lived in Gravesend Brooklyn for many years.  I am 56, I spend lotta time in Coney Island as a kid, I have a lot of questions, but I'll just ask one now, about what year did they demolish the nortons point, trolley ramp? My grandfather used to take me to this little luncheonette on Stillwell Ave, right next to the theater, I seem to remember the ramp but maybe not.  Thanks!
- Coney Fan

Hello Coney Fan,

The Norton's Point trolley service ended in November of 1948 and was demolished soon after.

Pictured: trolley ramp over West 15th Street next door to Gargiulo's Restaurant.and on Stillwell Avenue next to the deli.

posted on May 4th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
As a kid I would go to Coney Island in season and off with my parents.  I have a co-worker who is interested in Washington Baths because I told him my parents rented a locker for several summers in the early 60's.  We are unclear.  I told him that the entrance was on Surf Ave only a couple blocks from the train station.  He said it was past Raven Hall... I don't remember walking down that far to get to it.  Do you know what street it was on?  Thanks in advance for the answer.
- Kathy

Hello Kathy,

Washington Baths was on West 21st Street, between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk, but there was also a Washington Baths Annex a block away on the Boardwalk at West 22nd Street. Both had salt water pools. The main Washington Baths was right next to Ravenhall and had a large entrance on the Boardwalk. There was a smaller Surf Avenue entrance in the middle of the block used mostly by season pass holders.

Pictured is the big Washington Baths pool on West 21st Street.

posted on Apr 10th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I grew up in Coney and I remember there was a carousel not in the amusement district. It was located on the boardwalk about West 27th Street. The last thing that was there as I remember were handball courts. I want to see a picture and possibly know the name of that carousel. All I remember that it was in a tin shed (that is what I remember as a child) and that when you walked inside there was a concession stand on the left selling goodies etc.  Thank you.   PS: I was born in 1945 so the carousel I imagine was there when we use to go see the fireworks on Tuesday night. Also I very much miss Larry & Vinnies pizza. It was the best.
- Marilyn Bologna

Hello Marilyn,

The carousel was part of Weber's Baths on West 27th Street near the Half Moon Hotel. Few people remember that the amusement district stretched that far down the Boardwalk. It was known as the "Chafatino Carousel," carved by Illions, and named after the family that owned it when it was on Surf Avenue at West 5th Street before being moved to Weber's in 1932. It operated inside a beautiful glass pavilion until 1957 when it was relocated to Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

posted on Feb 26th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
What do you know of this ride? It stood next to the Astrotower. It was a 16 passenger diesel hydraulic very powerful ride thad had several serious accidents, once a carload of riders broke free and was thrown into West 12 street next to the Cyclone. Eventually it was dismantled. Any ideas or pics? Thanks.
- Mike

Hello Mike, The Space Orbit was an independent ride in Astroland operated by Wally Roberts for one season in 1964. It closed soon after an unfortunate accident injured several riders.

posted on Feb 26th, 2009
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I saw them moving the old rocket ride in Astroland a few weeks ago. Can you tell me about the history of it? Was it a working ride at one time? What did it do?
- Saskia

Hello Saskia,

The Astroland Rocket Ship was one of the first amusement park "simulators." It debuted in 1962 at Astroland Park as one of the first of the "imaginary" space voyage simulators constructed during the Space Race. The Rocket showed simulator films of "rocket rides" while the chassis "rocked" its viewers to outer space. The Ride, which has 26 seats, lasted about three minutes, the length of the film. Originally built as the "Star Flyer," the Astroland Rocket operated until the early 70's. It sat atop the boardwalk hamburger/hotdog stand, Gregory and Paul's until just a few week ago when it became of of the early victims of Coney Island's redevelopment.

While the City and Thor Equities continue to negotiate over ownership of Coney Island, Astroland Park moved off the its property at the end of January. Owners Carol and Jerry Albert then donated the rocket to the City, which is storing it in a temporary location. It will eventually return to Coney Island as a centerpiece of a newly developed park.

posted on Nov 23rd, 2008
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I lived in this building, which stretched the entire length of the block and was, at the time, the only apartment building in Coney Island with an elevator. I do not have any good photos of the building, however, and wonder who might? The Surf Avenue side had a pool hall-- Murrays, a luncheonette at the 29th street corner, a grocery store and a wholesale candy outlet. Thanks for your help.
- Martin Sage

Hello Martin,

The apartment building was divided in two: the Surf and Neptune. The Surf Apartments had an entrance on 28th Street and the Neptune Apartments entrance was on 29th Street. The building was constructed at the same time as the adjacent Half Moon Hotel in 1927. Weepy's pool hall was a famous fixture for many years, as was Jimmy's luncheonette/pizza joint on the 29th Street side. The building has been replaced by a nursing home.

posted on Nov 3rd, 2008
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I spent many childhood years in Coney Island between 1953 and 1960. Do you remember, or have any photos of, Tony's Rooming House on West 15th St.between Mermaid Ave. and Surf Ave.? Also, there was a rooming house, also on W. 15th St.,on the same side of the street, closer to Mermaid Ave. The address there was 2922 W. 15th St. For many years it was owned by Abe Fleminger and his family. Unfortunately, these buildings were demolished to make way for a large parking lot for Garguilio's Restaurant across the street. Anyhow, do you remember those two buildings, have any photos, or know any of the long-term residents of those rooming houses? I do recall that my mother's friends lived there -- Dave Altman, Tessie Dundee, as well as other dear friends. Any info or photos would be much appreciated. Awaiting your reply. Many thanks.
- Arlene

Hello Arlene,

Tony's Bright Spot was a beautiful but slightly seedy establishment in a building that dated back to the late 1800s. Tony Oleva operated it until his death, and then it was run by his "nephew." It had quite a reputation. The rooming house was an SRO that also was the last hotel in Coney that catered to tourists. It was painted in bright primary colors and decorated with plaster elves, swans, and whirligigs. There was an arbor and grape vines covering the roof and parking lot. At one time the elevated trolley from Norton's point went right over half the building.

Gargiulo's restaurant bought and demolished the building in the late 70s. We'll get back to you with the other information. Hope this helps.

posted on Nov 3rd, 2008
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I recall visiting Nathans in the 1960s and there being the most fantastic candy store right across the alley from Nathans on Stillwell Avenue.  There was a very old couple who ran the shop and they had the best carmel popcorn that I ever had in my life -- even until this day.  The store had giant colorful lolipops all around.  Do you have any history about this store?  Is it still standing?
- Bruce Baron

Hello Bruce,

You must be thinking of Williams Candy. At the time it was owned by Al Kirsch. The good news: it's still there! Come back and have a jelly apple!

posted on Nov 3rd, 2008
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I remember walking outside as a child and feeling hot ashes hitting me the day Luna Park burned down. Can you tell me the exact date and what caused the fire.
- Dolores

Hello Dolores,

Luna's devastating fire happened on August 12, 1944. It started in the park's scenic railway on West 12th Street, but the cause is unknown.