Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Historic Tour Of Coney Island

My curiosity being aroused by Kevin Baker's talk on Dreamland led me to an excellent site on Coney Island history which had this tour along with other gems.
The Coney Island History Project, founded in 2004, is a not-for-profit organization that aims to increase awareness of Coney Island's legendary and colorful past and to encourage appreciation of the Coney Island neighborhood of today. Our mission is to record, archive and share oral history interviews; provide access to historical artifacts and documentary material through educational exhibits, events and a website; and honor community leaders and amusement pioneers through our Coney Island Hall of Fame. Emphasizing community involvement, the History Project teaches young people the techniques of oral history and develops programs in conjunction with local schools, museums, and other organizations.
Amusement Area: Past & Present
The first audio tour covers the Amusement Area: Past & Present. Highlights include Coney Island's four New York City landmarks: the 1920 Wonder Wheel and 1927 Cyclone Roller Coaster, which are operating rides; the 1939 Parachute Jump, refurbished by the city and celebrated as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower"; and the 1924 Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk, which is currently Lola Staar's Dreamland Roller Rink. Sites endangered by change of ownership and redevelopment plans are another component of the tour. These sites include the Grasshorn Building (Coney's oldest, circa 1888); the 1925 Shore Theatre; Ruby's Bar and other vernacular architecture and signage along the Boardwalk, Bowery and Jones Walk.
The tours contribute to preservation of an authentic sense of place by telling the stories of Coney's landmarks as well as its endangered sites. For example, the former Grasshorn Hardware Store (Coney's oldest building) and Henderson Vaudeville Theatre (where Harpo Marx made his stage debut in 1908) are considered ineligible for landmarking because they have been altered too significantly. The process of landmarking the Shore Theater is expected to begin soon. CIHP's Audio Walking Tour will help keep these endangered sites in the public eye while there is still hope to save them.

1 comment:

Coney Island History Project said...

Greetings from Coney Island and thank you for featuring our free audio/video walking tour of the amusement area on your blog! While armchair travelers may enjoy watching/listening to the tour on the web, we encourage people to go out to Coney Island and do the walking tour, not just in the summer but 365 days a year!

The tour is downloadable for FREE to iPods or other portable devices from the Tours page of our website. You can also listen to tour live on your iPhone. The url for the download is
We are also working on a second audio tour wich will debut in the coming months.

See you on the Cyclone line on Coney Island's opening day of the 2010 season! March 28 (Palm Sunday)