He saw it all: RIP Kid Dundee

So, I’ve been doing all these stories for the new year on what life was like in New York one hundred years ago, 1910. Today we hear a tragic story about a man who was actually alive for all of it — Joe Rollino, a 104-year-old Brooklyn native and a former Coney Island strongman who… Read More

This weekend: NYC nostalgia, meat men, singularities

The Prince of Mermaid Avenue: Meet the meat man Some history related activities going on this weekend: Lost New York, 1609-2009 conference begins today at New York University, and it’s free! Panels will explore “the dynamics of creativity and destruction, nostalgia and invention, that have for centuries marked efforts to ‘Do New York,’ as Henry… Read More

History in the Making: TGI Monday Edition

ABOVE Queens Castle: the Bodine Castle once stood in Long Island City at 4316 Vernon Boulevard, a private villa owned by a wealthy banker. The building was unfortunately demolished in 1966. Read more about it here Uptown flair: An interview with Alan Stillman, who opened the world’s very first TGI Friday’s in 1965 — in… Read More

Mayor Charles Godfrey Gunther, Coney Island-bound

KNOW YOUR MAYORS Our modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in our mayoral survey can be found here.Mayor C. Godfrey GuntherIn office: 1864-1865 His past glories were built on a mountain of fur pelts, and his future would wash up… Read More

Picture Perfect: Irving Underhill captures New York style

Top: the Brooklyn Bridge in 1925. Bottom: Underhill on the boardwalk: the photographer captures a seemingly meloncholy day in Coney Island, with Childs Restaurant at right Nobody in New York’s early history captures the romance of early city life more than the first photographers — the men and women who wiled away with expensive, limited… Read More

Fenced in: the Coney Island-Puck Building connection

Steeplechase Park in the old days With the nice weather, I was in a very Coney Island state of mind this past weekend. So I was happy to learn this week’s podcast topic has its own connection to the amusement capital’s glory days. There’s a black rod-iron fence that encircles the Puck Building, a rather… Read More

‘Starlight’ express: fun and death in a lost Bronx park

It’s raining men at Starlight Park in the Bronx, circa 1921 (photo cleaned up and courtesy of Shorpy) For residents of the west Bronx, getting to Coney Island might have been quite a chore in 1918. So they decided to bring Coney Island to them. I believe Starlight Park can be called the Bronx’s first… Read More

The history of the future of Coney Island

Coney Island of the future: do robots dream of Nathan’s hot dogs? For almost as long as Coney Island has existed, people have had visions to transform it. Initially a sleepy getaway resort town for artists and writers, Coney Island became the haven of greedy speculators like John McKane, selling up the land for cheap… Read More

John McKane: the original ‘maverick’

I should preface this to say, out of fairness, I looked through the annals of New York City history for scandalously corrupt politicians named Barack Obama, Sarah Palin and Joseph Biden, but could find none. John McKane was one of the most important figures in the history of Coney Island, in much the same way… Read More

Goodbye Astroland (again)

Astroland is once again closing for the final time at the end of this weekend, making way for Thor Equities to begin their new development of the area. The park’s main attraction, the legendary Cyclone, isn’t going away however. A functioning roller-coaster since 1927 — and built on the spot of the world’s very first… Read More

Coney Island’s famous assault on the stomach returns!

If human beings doing harm to their bodies by shoveling bread and meat down their throats disturb you, stay away from Coney Island and don’t turn on ESPN at noon on July 4th. Because the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eat Contest is back for its 93rd year. Ninety-three years. Most human beings don’t live that long… Read More

All hail the Coney Island Mardi Gras parade!

Before there were Mermaids, there was Mardi Gras. Above: ghoulish revelers from the 1911 parade An even larger collection of freaks and aquatic oddities than Coney Island’s everyday normal assortment will come slithering down Surf Avenue this Saturday with the 26th annual Mermaid Parade. The parade is the heart of Coney’s modern freak-show aesthetic, Christmastime… Read More

History in the making – 1/5

Pizza in Park Slope Jeremiah gives us a (wonderful but depressing) rundown of all the New York history destroyed by redevelopment in 2007. [Vanishing New York] Roosevelt Island’s super-spooky Renwick Ruin, New York’s former smallpox hospital turned haunted mansion, is falling apart. [City Room] Corona, Queens’ Jewish community may get landmark status bestowed on its… Read More


PODCAST: Coney Island – 20th Century Freakshow

Come see the Wonder Wheel, the king of hot dogs, the “Freaks” in the Dreamland Sideshow, a beached whale and Donald Trump’s dad — all in one place! Its Coney Island of the 20th Century. But will it be around much longer in the 21st? Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting… Read More


PODCAST: Coney Island – The Golden Age

The Coney Island that greeted vacationers and city folk in the years 1904 to 1911 was one of infinite imagination manifested in fantastic but cheaply built extravaganza. A world of amusement starts here in New York — Coney Island, the world’s oldest and strangest collection of amusement parks, a mishmash of sideshows, concession stands, gambling… Read More