Amusements and Thrills Podcasts

The Landmarks of Coney Island: Spending the day with the amusement icons of the boardwalk

PODCAST The story of Coney Island’s illustrious past via the official and unofficial landmarks which survive to this day.

The Coney Island Boardwalk — officially the Riegelmann Boardwalk — just became an official New York City scenic landmark, and to celebrate, the Bowery Boys are headed to Brooklyn’s amusement capital to toast its most famous and long-lasting icons.

Recorded live on location, this week’s show features the backstories of these Coney Island classics:

— The Wonder Wheel, the graceful, eccentric Ferris wheel preparing to celebrate for its 100th year of operation;

— The Spook-o-Rama, a dark ride full of old-school thrills;

— The Cyclone, perhaps America’s most famous roller-coaster with a history that harkens back to Coney Island’s wild coaster craze;

— Nathan’s Famous, the king of hot dogs which has fed millions from the same corner for over a century;

— Coney Island Terminal, a critical transportation hub that ushered in the amusement area’s famous nickname — the Nickel Empire

PLUS: An interview with Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and founder of Coney Island USA, who recounts the origin of the Mermaid Parade and the Sideshow by the Seashore

Supporters of the Bowery Boys on Patreon will receive an extra bonus clip discussing two other Coney Island landmarks — Childs Restaurant (site of the Ford Amphitheater) and the Parachute Jump.

Listen Now: Coney Island History Podcast

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A big thanks to Dick Zigun for being on the show! He’s also the co-author of a new play BECOMING BETTIE PAGE which is playing this weekend and the next. Visit the Coney Island USA site for more information.

The Mermaid Parade is in two weeks! June 16, 2018, starting at 1pm. Click here for all the details you’ll need to participate — either as a participant in the parade or just a parade watcher. This year’s King and Queen of the Mermaid Parade are author/comic legend Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls.

And we’d also like to thank Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park for graciously allowing us to record on the Wonder Wheel itself.

Here are the seven official landmarks within the old Coney Island amusement area. We talk about four of them on the main show and two more of them on our Patreon exclusive:

1) Coney Island Boardwalk

Museum of the City of New York

2)  Wonder Wheel

1944, Museum of the City of New York

3) The Cyclone

1935, Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

4) Parachute Jump — pictured here at its original home at the 1939 New York World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows

Wurts Brothers, courtesy Museum of the City of New York

The Parachute Jump and the boardwalk on a windy summer’s day in 2017.

Greg Young

5) Childs Restaurant on the Boardwalk

Forgotten NY

A nice hazy day in 2017. The former Childs Restaurant can be seen in the distance. This image was taken from the Steeplechase Pier.

Greg Young

6) Childs Restaurant on Surf Avenue (now the home of the Coney Island Museum)

Courtesy Alex Rush

Inside the museum:

7) Shore Theatre on Surf Avenue

Brooklyn Public Library

And while Nathan’s Famous may not be a landmark, nobody can argue with the fact that its a genuine Coney Island classic.

1939, Andrew Herman Federal Art Project, Museum of the City of New York

1 reply on “The Landmarks of Coney Island: Spending the day with the amusement icons of the boardwalk”

Oh, man, this hurts. I was supposed to travel to New York state this past week and I was planning a day trip to Coney Island. But if I had gone without knowing the history behind what I was experiencing until after I got back, that would have been heartbreaking too. I “see” so much more when I listen to your podcasts before or during a visit.

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