Old Coney Island Impressions

Coney Island was back with new rides, glitzy, fancy and clean. They kept the  boardwalk, the Cyclone, and the Wonder Wheel, but replaced the other rides and got rid the polyglot food stands, losing much of the unique atmosphere of the place . They tidied it up.

My pictures are from July 2007, one of the final two years before they “fixed it,” although I didn’t think it was broken. These are impressions, intentionally painting-like photographs. So before you ask, they are manipulated images that are intentionally a bit surreal … which, of course, is how Coney Island always felt to me.

I started going to Coney Island when I was about 8 years old and that was the first time I rode the Cyclone. The Parachute Jump was still running then. Now, although the structure still stands, the ride is no longer considered safe enough for the public.

The old Coney Island had three big roller coasters, of which the Cyclone was the largest.

The former Thunderbolt roller coaster, Coney I...

The former Thunderbolt roller coaster, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was also the Tornado and the Thunderbolt, both of which were big roller coasters. They didn’t have as large a first drop as the Cyclone, but both were famous for  crazy turns that tossed you around. And of course all three were wooden roller coaster which have an entirely different “feel” than steel coasters … mainly the wooden coasters shake more than steel coasters. They feel more dangerous and less secure than steel coasters. These old coasters didn’t have secure seating, either, just a bar across your lap that felt loose enough to let you get thrown out, or stand up. Every year a few dumb people were killed because they simply had to prove their bravery by standing and waving their arms around. One can but wonder how many beers one needs before that seems like a good idea!

Newer roller coasters have much more secure seating than the old ones did.

A goodly part of the thrill of the Cyclone was that for many years it was very rickety. It wasn’t unusual to see a piece fall off while you were riding it.

Thus, added to the thrill of the dips and curves was the not entirely unrealistic fear that the whole thing might collapse with you on it, or you might go flying off the rails for a final thrill … going out with a bang, not a whimper.

Coney Island post Hurricane Sandy.

But now, we have to wonder if Coney Island will ever be back. The damage done by Hurricane Sandy was serious and there’s an awful lot of repair work to be done. Will they do it? Can they do it? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m glad we were there while it was the original wonderful midway, beach and boardwalk.

Categories: #Photography, History, Nature, Seasons, Travel, Weather

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7 replies

  1. Somehow I missed this one…going to add it as a related post to Carnival Charisma on Awakenings:>)


  2. When I was a kid, Mom and Dad took me to Steeplechase Park. I got to ride an old wooden horse down the long, slanting track. I was, of course, thrilled. Totally captured by the magic. Memories are made of this, sang Perry Como. Yep.


    ‘I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.’ William Penn


    • My mother used to talk about Steeplechase and somewhere, I used to have a picture of her on one of those wooden horses on that long track. It was gone, burned down, before I got to Coney Island, but before this flood, they had built a new one which I never got to see. I hope they rebuild it. I really love that place. Some of happiest memories come from there.


  3. I keep watching news coverage of the coast areas affected. So much damage was done it reminds me of Biloxi Mississippi when hurricane Camille hit there in 1969. Everything was swept out to sea. I understand people’s fascination for living close to the ocean but I feel insurance companies need to simply stop covering the new homes built there. The dangers are real so that only the wealthy can afford the properties or building new homes there. The same can be said for river property prone to flooding. IMHO


    • The mid Atlantic shore was badly wounded. Coney Island took a bashing. I pray it was not fatal. A little further south, a similar historic beach in New Jersey, the boardwalk and midway were probably destroyed beyond repair and the beach itself largely washed out to sea. The sea giveth and the sea taketh back. Their roller coaster was out in the ocean. They are finding pieces of boardwalk miles away.

      It’s bad all along the coast from Maryland through southern Connecticut. I don’t know what happened further north, but the storm went inland after it missed us. I haven’t heard anything from up north, so I’m assuming it wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be breaking up somewhat by then, so hopefully it was mostly rain and the flooding wasn’t too serious. Those areas are rarely hit, but when they are, they lack the infrastructure to deal with hurricane damage. It is mostly rural not far from here. Some area are downright wild. There are a few cities, but on the whole, it’s small towns, farms and countryside. Not a lot of responders to help.



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