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.
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.
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.
- Coney Island hit hard by Sandy, NY Aquarium flooded, Seaside Heights boardwalk ravaged too (brooklynvegan.com)
- Coney Island Devastated by Hurricane Sandy (buzzfeed.com)
- Photos: Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island (politicker.com)
- Here’s A Haunting Picture Of Coney Island Under Water (businessinsider.com)
- Coney Island Turned Into ‘Third World Country’ By Sandy (huffingtonpost.com)