ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting North America

DREAMLAND GIFTS (A Division of The Flying Pig Gallery)

Updated on January 9, 2012

DREAMLAND GIFTS , Photos by Liza Dey Photography

Dreamland Park, circa 1905

:

Welcome to DREAMLAND GIFTS on Squidoo!

Coney Island was America's first great amusement park, and the site of many other historic firsts for this country as well. In its heyday it was thought of as both one of the few places in the growing city where people - ALL people, regardless of background or class - could find real, affordable fun and healthful relaxation, as well as a place where out-of-control bacchanalian disorder ruled and threatened the moral fabric of society. It has gone through many transitions through the years; even today a major battle for the soul of Coney is underway between the real estate developers and the preservationists.

I grew up as a New York City kid going out to Coney Island all summer long. I love Coney Island, and want it to maintain its joyful, gaudy, egalitarian nature, and to embrace its history while finding a way towards a vibrant, successful future. As a photographer I love Coney Island as a subject matter; I love its bright colors, the shapes of the rides, alongside the broken-down-yet-beautiful ghosts of yesterday. I hope to celebrate my love of Coney Island and share it with others with this page, just as I do with my line of Coney Island-themed products available on Zazzle (and formerly on CafePress).

So come with me on a visit to Coney Island! If this is your first visit there, I hope you learn something new and enjoy the trip. If, like me, you're a long-time fan, I hope you enjoy celebrating Coney Island - past, present & future - along with me!

~ Liza

:

*** All images on this page © Liza Dey, unless vintage images or otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. Images may not be downloaded, copied, or otherwise used in any fashion without express permission of the photographer. ***

Aerial View of Coney Island (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Aerial View of Coney Island (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

CONEY ISLAND: The People's Playground & "Sodom by the Sea"

Aerial View of Coney Island and southern Brooklyn (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

:

Originally a barrier island, Coney Island dangles off of the southern tip of Brooklyn like some sort of appendage added as an afterthought. Discovered on September 1st, 1609 by Henery Hudson - the day before he discovered the rest of New York - Coney Island was named after the many wild rabbits, or "conies", that inhabited the island. Despite the promising start, after clearing the island of its Native American population, the Dutch and the other early settlers of New York never used the land for anything more than grazing and rabbit hunting. It wasn't until the mid-19th century that New Yorkers really started to utilize the land.

Vintage Postcard of Feltman's Restaurant, along Surf Avenue
Vintage Postcard of Feltman's Restaurant, along Surf Avenue

Vintage Postcard of Feltman's Restaurant, along Surf Avenue

:

By the mid-1800s Americans were beginning to find more time for recreation, and a leisure-class was beginning to develop. People were also beginning to swim for enjoyment and recognize the healthy properties of fresh sea air and "sea bathing".

In 1848 ferry service began to Coney's western end and in 1862 the first train service reached Coney Island. It became a popular location for day trips and fresh seafood dining. Over time, different areas of the peninsula developed distinctly different personalities. The western end of the island became the rowdier, more lawless segment of Coney, known for its beer halls, fist fights, prostitutes and pickpockets; it was dubbed "Sodom by the Sea" by the New York Times. The center of the island - the area that we consider the heart of Coney Island today - was the first area to develop family-friendly entertainment geared toward the working- and middle-classes. It was here that Charles Feltman opened his restaurant and in 1870 first served a delicious new kind of fast food snack - The Coney Island Red Hot, later known as the hot dog. And in 1884 a new thrill ride was developed here called the "switch-back railroad" - the first rollercoaster. Meanwhile the east end had developed into a respectable summer resort for the well-to-do, with three grand beach hotels - The Brighton Beach,The Manhattan Beach and the The Oriental.

Vintage Postcard of Steeplechase Park Entrance
Vintage Postcard of Steeplechase Park Entrance

Vintage Postcard of Steeplechase Park Entrance, featuring "Steeplechase - Funny Face" Tillie Logo

:

In 1897 the first of the three great amusement parks that were to define Coney Island for years to come opened. Steeplechase Park, located in the area where The Parachute Jump now sits, was created by George C. Tilyou, a Coney Island impresario. Featuring a grinning face and the phrase "Steeplechase - Funny Place" as its logo, the park's most famous attraction was its namesake ride. The Steeplechase Ride featured a series of mechanical horses racing along an undulating track around the entire park at high speeds. It also featured the Blow Hole Theatre, where a midget dressed in a clown costume harassed people as they exited the attraction while a blast of air blew the ladies' skirts up - all in front of an audience of earlier victims. After a fire destroyed Steeplechase in 1907, the park was rebuilt and enclosed in a glass pavilion, The Pavilion of Fun. Steeplechase Park survived to long outlive its eventual competitors, finally closing in 1964.

Vintage Postcard of Luna Park Entrance
Vintage Postcard of Luna Park Entrance

Vintage Postcard of Luna Park Entrance

:

Just six years after Steeplechase opened, in 1903, Luna Park opened on the northern side of Surf Avenue. Created by Frederick Thompson and Elmer "Skip" Dundee, it featured a ride simulating what its turn-of-the-century creators imagined a trip to the moon to be like. Architecturally it was a marvel, incorporating and intermixing a myriad of fanciful design styles and being lit by an amazing (especially for the time) 250,000 electric light bulbs. It also included a heard of trained elephants roaming the park, including Topsy, the ill-fated elephant who was publicly electrocuted as a Coney Island spectacle, after having killed three people, including an abusive trainer who had fed her a lit cigarette. Luna Park survived through the years until a catastrophic fire hit it in 1944. Two years later the destroyed park officially closed in 1946.

Vintage Postcard of Dreamland Amusement Park
Vintage Postcard of Dreamland Amusement Park

Vintage Postcard of Dreamland Amusement Park

:

The last of the three great parks that marked Coney Island's heyday was Dreamland Amusement Park, located on the site that is occupied today by the NY Aquarium and the Cyclone Rollercoaster. Built by Tammany-connected businessman William H. Reynolds, it only survived seven years, from 1904 until 1911. And while never quite as successful in its day as Steeplechase and Luna Park, it left a lasting mark on the culture of New York City, America and even on science itself.

Dreamland strove to higher aspirations than either Steeplechase or Luna Park, and in addition to more traditional amusement park fare, it featured many attractions similar to those found at a World's Fair, including pavilions and restaurants representing many different nations and cultures throughout the world. It was even visited by Sigmund Freud during his 1909 visit to America! It included a "Lilliputian Village" - an entire medieval city in miniature, inhabited full-time by more than 300 midgets and dwarfs, and the park was immortalized by the 1909 classic waltz 'Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland'. Most amazingly, in 1904 Dreamland became a ground breaker in the field of neonatal intensive care when Dr. Martin Couney - a pioneer in the care of premature babies in his native Europe - opened the Infant Incubators attraction at Dreamland. Not yet accepted treatment for preemies in hospitals in the U.S., Couney brought his incubators to Coney Island and charged 10c a person to view the tiny infants thru a glass window; this small admission helped fund further research in the field. At one point this was Dreamland's most popular attraction (it moved to Luna Park after Dreamland closed in 1911), and of the 8,000 babies brought to Dr. Couney over the years, 7,500 survived.

Early on the morning of Opening Day for the 1911 summer season a fire broke out in Hell Gate, the park's great spookhouse, guarded by a giant devil. (It is believed the fire was caused by an exploding light bulb near a spilled bucket of pitch.) The fire spread incredibly quickly throughout the park - made mostly of lath, paper mache and fabric - and within hours the park was burnt to the ground. Even though the other parks had bounced back from severe fires, Dreamland never did try to rebuild, and just seven years after its opening, it closed.

Vintage Postcard of The Parachute Jump
Vintage Postcard of The Parachute Jump

Vintage Postcard of The Parachute Jump

:

Despite being past its glory days, Coney Island continued to grow and attract new rides throughout the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. The Wonder Wheel was built in 1918 and opened in 1920. The Thunderbolt and Tornado rollercoasters - both now gone - were built in 1925 and 1926, respectively, followed by the great Cyclone Rolercoaster in 1927. The Parachute Jump, the first ride of its kind, was relocated from the New York World's Fair in Queens in 1939 and thrilled people until its closing in 1968. While the area originally occupied by Luna Park (north of Surf Avenue) eventually became low-income housing, numerous rides, attractions and food stands have come and gone over the years along Surf Avenue.

In 1957 The New York Aquarium, now a part of the Wildlife Conservation Society (along with NYC's four other major zoos), relocated from Lower Manhattan to its present location along The Boardwalk at West 8th Street. And in 1962, at the dawn of the space age, Astroland Amusement Park opened between the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue at West 10th Street. While the park originally featured a heavy space theme, in keeping with the park's name and the times, over the years the rides have morphed into more traditional carnival fare - Dante's Inferno Spookhouse, a Flume ride, numerous disco-blaring whip rides and The Pirate Ship, an enormous ship which rocked back and forth, higher and higher, like a playground swing on steroids.

Astroland Amusement Park at Dusk, 2007 (Photo by Liza Dey)
Astroland Amusement Park at Dusk, 2007 (Photo by Liza Dey)

Astroland Amusement Park at Dusk, 2007 (Photo by Liza Dey)

:

Currently, Coney Island is in a tremendous period of flux. Many new attractions and draws have moved into the area in recent years, including The Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor-league baseball team, and their brand new baseball field, KeySpan Park. A roller rink has moved into the long-abandoned old Childs Restaurant Building on The Boardwalk, and both Sideshows by the Seashore and the annual Mermaid Parade have become more popular as the years have gone by. Unfortunately, as Coney has started regaining a little of the popularity of yesteryear, it has also attracted the attention of real estate developers. Without a doubt, large swathes of Coney Island are deteriorated and economically depressed and are ripe for development of some sort. Just what that development will be is the battle that is going on today.

In late 2006 Thor Equities, a large real estate development company, bought large chunks of Coney Island property. They have since been attempting to get the area rezoned for high-rise hotels and condos. Meanwhile the preservationists are fighting to save many historic buildings and amusements by getting the area classified as a Historic Preservation District. They are also trying to maintain the basic character that the district has had since the mid 19th century - one geared towards fun, affordable, original entertainment and amusements. In the meantime, as the battle has raged on in court, the New York press and on the streets, many long-time tenants of Coney Island - unfortunately including Astroland Amusement Park - have been sacrificed. In 2006 Astroland was sold to Thor Equities, and after two years of confusion, miscues and reversals of plans, the gates of Astroland were officially closed for the last time on September 7th, 2008.

After a temporary park opened on the property last summer, a new park, Luna Park - named after the original Luna - is scheduled to open in just a few weeks for the 2010 season. Whether this new Luna Park takes, or is allowed to grow and flourish, is still unclear, as is the future of all of Coney Island.

:

~ To learn even more about Coney Island, past and present, I've included a great collection of Coney Island links at the bottom of this page. ~

"Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland" - Written by Beth Slater Whitson & Leo Friedman (1909); Performed by Beat Circus (From the album 'Dreamland')

This pretty, lilting waltz was one of the most popular songs during the early 20th century, and the unofficial theme song of Dreamland Amusement Park. It remains a well-known nostalgia piece even today.

"Meet me tonight in dreamland,

under the silvery moon;

Meet me tonight in dreamland,

where love's sweet roses bloom.

Come with the love-light gleaming

in your dear eyes so true;

Meet me in dreamland,

sweet dreamy dreamland;

There let my dreams come true."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A Few of my Favorite Coney Island Items, Available on Amazon

American Experience - Coney Island
American Experience - Coney Island

A Film by Ric Burns (1991)

From the documentary filmmaker who gave us "New York: A Documentary", this hour-long film is nothing short of a Valentine to Coney Island. It tells the history of Coney Island, dating back to its discovery by Henry Hudson in 1609, thru its Golden Age in the early 20th century, and on into current times. It is filled with amazing stories, beautiful vintage photos and film footage and a haunting soundtrack. I can't recommend this enough!

:

 
Dreamland
Dreamland

(Paperback edition; other editions available)

This is truly one of my favorite books in the world! Set in NYC circa 1910, this amazing novel interweaves the story of Coney Island and the denizens of Dreamland Amusement Park with immigrant life on the Lower East Side and the rise of the labor movement among the city's young women shirtwaist makers, the world of the turn-of-the-century Jewish and Irish gangs of NY, and even the founding fathers of modern psychology - Freud & Jung, who, during their one visit to America in 1909, toured Coney Island at its heyday! A must-read for any fan of Coney Island, or New York history!

:

 
Coney Island Postcards: The People's Playground
Coney Island Postcards: The People's Playground

2 each of 16 images (32 cards total)

I received a set of these for my birthday last year from my best friend, a Brooklyn girl who grew up not far from Coney Island. They're wonderful! Containing a total of 32 cards ( 2 each of 16 different cards), they feature marvelous vintage post card images of Coney Island, along with a fun little factoid about the image or Coney Island on the back. Great for any Coney fan!

:

 

Other Great Coney Island Items From Amazon

Coney Island: The People's Playground
Coney Island: The People's Playground

A comprehensive hardcover history of Coney Island, from colonial times to the present. Features lots of vintage photographs.

:

 
Coney Island: Lost and Found
Coney Island: Lost and Found

This hardcover, heavily-illustrated, coffee table book is part Coney Island history, part childhood reminiscence. The writer, Denson, grew up on Coney Island during the 50s and 60s, and the book is filled with his insider memories and stories of the area during those years.

:

 
New York- Coney Island Metal Sign Tin Sign 17 x 11in
New York- Coney Island Metal Sign Tin Sign 17 x 11in

Officially Licensed replica of a metal New York City MTA Subway Sign from Stillwell Avenue, the Coney Island station. 11 x 17 in.

:

 
Love Never Dies (Cast Recording) [2 CD/DVD Combo] [Deluxe Edition]
Love Never Dies (Cast Recording) [2 CD/DVD Combo] [Deluxe Edition]

Original British Cast Recording

Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-awaited sequel to 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Premiered in London in March, due to open in NYC in November. Set in Coney Island, the action picks up approximately 10 years after "Phantom" ends and includes all the original main characters - The Phantom, Christine, Raoul, Madame Giry & Meg, along with the addition of a 10-year old son (Gustave) for Christine & Raoul.

:

 
My Dad & I at Coney Island, circa 1969
My Dad & I at Coney Island, circa 1969

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DREAMLAND GIFTS: Coney Island Memories

My Dad & I at Coney Island, circa 1969.

:

As a native New Yorker, I grew up going to Coney Island every summer. In those days - the 60s, 70s & 80s - if you were from the Bronx you spent your summers at Orchard Beach, in Pelham Bay Park. If you were from Queens, you hung out at The Rockaways. But if you were from Brooklyn, or, like me, from Manhattan, Coney Island was your summer home.

Some of my earliest memories are of summer days spent out at Coney Island with my parents, and for years I spent my July birthday out there. Later, I hung out there with my best girlfriend, her brother and boyfriend - working on our tans, listening to our "boom boxes", dunking each other in the ocean and riding all the thrilling rides of Astroland and Deno's. And like so many other people that grew up loving Coney Island, to this day that unique Coney Island blend of smells that hits you as soon as you get off the subway at Stillwell Avenue - salt from the ocean; coconut from suntan lotion; almost-but-not-quite sickeningly sweet smelling cotton candy and saltwater taffy; butter from popcorn and cooking oil from greasy foods like knishes and zeppoles; and, in the old days, urine from the confounding maze that was the old subway station and the beach bathrooms that back then were never, EVER dry or had doors or toilet seats - automatically brings on a sense of excitement and anticipation.

Vintage Photo of Mechanical Laughing Lady, Magic Carpet Ride Funhouse (Photographer Unknown)
Vintage Photo of Mechanical Laughing Lady, Magic Carpet Ride Funhouse (Photographer Unknown)

Mechanical Laughing Lady, Magic Carpet Ride Funhouse (Photographer Unknown)

:

As so often is the case, my earliest memories of Coney Island are amongst the most resonant. In those days my parents chose to go to the southwestern end of Coney Island, in the vicinity of the old Childs Restaurant shell; they preferred the quieter, less crowded beach down there. One of my strongest memories of those days at Coney was the mechanical laughing fat lady sitting in the window of The Magic Carpet Ride Funhouse; her loud cackle echoed throughout all of Coney Island, and was one of the first things that greeted you as soon as you exited the huge subway complex. Back then I was quite young - probably about 4 or 5 - and I remember she both fascinated and terrified me. I had to go by the funhouse and see her every time we went out there, yet I would never go near the window, despite my parents' urging. I think even then I sensed something maniacal about her laugh, and despite the absolute artifice of her appearance, between her laughter and her rocking movement I think I was always a little afraid that she would reach down, thru the glass, and grab me if I came too close!

Childs Restaurant Building, Looking NE to the Parachute Jump
Childs Restaurant Building, Looking NE to the Parachute Jump

Childs Restaurant Building, Looking NE to the Parachute Jump

:

I have many other fond memories of Coney Island from those early years, as well as a few that are not so fond. I recall riding some of my first amusement park rides (including my first, mini ferris wheel, on what I think was my fifth birthday) at the small kiddie park not far from Nathan's. My favorite ride was the boat ride; I loved trailing my hand in the cool water as the boats went round and round in circles. (Although I'm sure I wasn't supposed to do that.) I remember being greeted by the huge Coppertone ad over the subway station (with the dog pulling the little girl's bottoms down) upon arrival at Coney, and buying new sunglasses (Bright blue lenses - so 60s!) at the sunglass store right at the entrance to the station. And we never ended a day at the beach without an ice cream cone from Carvel on Surf Avenue and some junky plastic toy or a balloon from the toy & souvenir stand at the back of the entryway to the subway station.

Shore Hotel, Surf Avenue
Shore Hotel, Surf Avenue

Shore Theatre & Hotel (Surf Avenue)

:

I have far more ambivalent feelings today towards one of the favorite Coney attractions of my childhood. Until the early 70s there was a little storefront animal nursery along Surf Avenue, not far from the old Shore Hotel. As a small child it was without doubt one of my favorite things about Coney Island - so much so that my parents usually had to haul me out of there to go to the beach! It was one of the first things we hit during our day there, and I loved to play with all the baby rabbits, lambs and chicks. You could even give the animals feed you bought from gumball machines. But in hindsight I question how well the animals were maintained in such a small space, especially a few of the larger animals. They had a few monkeys if I remember correctly, including two chimps. One was young, and one of the most popular attractions in the shop. But the other one was very old, with a drawn, balding head. He was kept in a large-though-not-large-enough-for-him cage in the rear corner of the store, and his cage had extra tight wiring over it with signs not to feed or touch him prominently displayed. Mostly he just sat on his shelf and stared, with his arms wrapped over his head, but I still remember the day my dad got too near his cage or leaned against it, and the chimp charged at him; the only thing that protected my father was that extra tight mesh chicken wire. But the one thing that I'll never forget about that chimp, and which haunts me to this day, was the look in his eyes. They were, simply put, the eyes of someone who had been driven mad, and I've only ever seen eyes like that in one other person in my life - in photos and footage of Charles Manson. Tragically for many of the animals (although perhaps a blessing to that old chimp) a few years later (1974, I believe) there was one of Coney Island's many fires in the nursery one night; I believe all the animals were killed.

Coney Island on a Sunny Day
Coney Island on a Sunny Day

Coney Island on a Sunny Day

:

In later years, when I went to Coney Island as a teenager with my friends, we chose to settle closer to the heart of Coney Island, or - later on - further East, towards Brighton Beach. We would spend the days "laying out", trading horror novels, and playing "Jaws" in the water. (Basically just water tag, for those of us that were kids in the 70s.) And in the late afternoon we would pack up our bags and head to the amusement parks (with an occasional pit stop at the Aquarium) for the real fun.

Unfortunately for me, my best friend was a devout lover of all thrill rides; the faster it went, the more it contorted you, the better it was as far as she was concerned. My stomach was nowhere near as hardy as hers. So while she lived for rides like The Pirate Ship, The Hell Hole and any of the various whip rides, I have nightmare recollections of endlessly riding one of those disco-blaring rides while desperately trying not to lose my entire lunch right there on the ride! ("You can ring my be-e-e-e-ell, ring my bell......", over and over and over again!) She loved to ride in the front car of the Cyclone and raise her hands during the top drop. It wasn't until years later that I finally ventured on The Cyclone, and even then, it was with another friend - a fellow first-timer, who had a taste in amusement park rides closer to my own. WE rode somewhere in the middle of the train, and we both kept our hands sensibly clutched around the bar as if our lives depended on it for the entire ride!

Spook-a-Rama Window with Wonder Wheel Reflection
Spook-a-Rama Window with Wonder Wheel Reflection

Spook-a-Rama Window with Wonder Wheel Reflection

:

We did find some area of common ground on rides, of course. We both loved the Wonder Wheel, and would never miss a chance to enjoy the amazing view from the top, while thrilling to the drop in your stomach as the swinging cars swung out high above all of Coney Island. The Water Flume created a cool, wet respite on a hot day, and we both loved all the great spookhouses of Coney Island. We first fell in love with the one next to the B&B Carousell on Surf Avenue, and we enjoyed Dante's Inferno in Astroland, but probably our favorite was Spook-a-Rama, sitting in the shadow of the Wonder Wheel. That ride never failed to leave us laughing as we got off of it - laughing at our own silly fear and squeals as things had popped out at us from all sides along the way!

The "King Horse", B&B Carousell (Surf Avenue)

:

Many of my fondest memories of Coney Island revolve around the B&B Carousell (spelled that way!) on Surf Avenue. The first time I rode on it was shortly before my third birthday, not long after my family returned to NY after living in Georgia for a couple of years. They had already tried me on the Central Park Carousel, and I l had loved it, so now they decided to give the B&B a try. When the carousel was loading up, my dad started to put me on the nearest available horse; but I had seen the carousel going around, and had seen the "King Horse" - the magnificent Arthurian decorated star of the carousel, proudly decorated with Lincoln on his flank - and had fallen in love with him. According to family lore (and to the longtime operators of the B&B), I absolutely refused to sit on the "normal" horse that my dad tried to put me on, and pitched a fit until he moved me to the "King Horse". I am proud to say that from that day until the day they closed up the B&B for restoration and storage until its eventual return as part of the new Coney Island, with the exception of one season when the King Horse was out being restored, I have never ridden any other horse on that carousel! Over the years he became almost real to me, and I would always give him a fond pat on the neck as a thank you whenever I got off the carousel.

The B&B Carousell (Surf Avenue)
The B&B Carousell (Surf Avenue)

The B&B Carousell (Surf Avenue)

:

Throughout my years riding the B&B Carousell, I developed quite a friendship with Mike Saltzman & his business partner, James McCullough, the two wonderful owner/operators of the B&B. Even years after that first ride on The King Horse, when I was well into my 30s and bringing new friends to Coney Island and sharing "my" carousel with them, they both still remembered me; they asked after my mother, who they remembered even after all these years, and they still remembered the incident of my first visit to their carousel, over 30 years earlier. Knowing that I enjoyed trying to get the brass ring, even those times in later years when my friend and I were the only ones on the ride, they'd put the ring arm out for me, and then happily put the basket out to catch my finger full of rings as I tossed them back. They'd often let me have as many free rides as I wanted after my initial ride; if it had been up to me, I probably would have stayed on for an hour or more, but usually my friends only indulged my passion for the carousel for an extra ride or two.

In Mike & Jim I found people who shared my passion for carousels. As I entered my tween and teen years, I developed a real interest in the workings and history of carousels, fueled in part by my love for the B&B and in part by my love of old movie musicals, including Rodger & Hammerstein's 'Carousel'. During my second and third go-rounds, they would often come over, and, between bell ringings, we'd talk carousels. They taught me how real calliopes worked, and told me how few carousels were left with real working ones like the B&B had. They told me about wooden, hand-carved horses, with real horse-hair tails (like the B&B's horses), as opposed to modern fiberglass horses with molded tails. They told me about the artists that painted horses, and those that painted the beautiful works of art on the center and canopy of carousels. They recommended books on carousels, and told me about carousel auctions that had taken place. They were an endlessly fascinating font of information for a growing carousel nerd like me!

Elevated Subway with B&B Carousell Building, For Sale (August 2007)

:

Mike Saltzman passed away on, ironically, July 4th, 2001, doing what he loved most - running the B&B Carousell. Jim had retired from actively working the carousel a few years earlier. After struggling along for a couple of years after Mike's passing, the carousel was scheduled to go up for sale, piece by piece, in 2005. One day before the auction took place, NYC bought the carousel; the building it stood in for years has now been sold, and the B&B is now being restored, to someday be incorporated in some way with the new designs for Coney Island. But for me, the heart of the B&B will always be Mike, Jim & The King Horse; the vintage plaques with painted clown faces that adorned the walls all around the inside of the building; the Popeye plaque by the ring arm stand and the huge shotgun wedding cartoon painting in the back (I think the first place where I learned of that concept), and the poor, sad, crazy horse stored up on top of the closet in the back, too frightening to be used on the ride.

DREAMLAND GIFTS: Photographing Coney Island

Thunderbolt Rollercoaster, Parachute Jump & Go-Kart Track, Autumn 1984

:

I first began studying photography in my Senior year of high school. One of my earliest subject matters was Coney Island. This was during the early 80s, and Coney Island was probably at its lowest point in those years. Its' glory days were long gone, and even the after-glow years of the 40s, 50s and 60s were far behind it by that point. Like most of New York City during the 70s and 80s, Coney suffered from an extreme financial crisis, rising crime rates and an increase in collapsing, condemned or abandoned buildings. Many of the rides and amusements of my early childhood had disappeared. It was this Coney Island that I was initially drawn to photographing - the old, the dilapidated, the abandoned. At that time Coney Island epitomized the city that I knew - a place once great, but now neglected, worn-out and unloved.

Astroland Amusement Park, circa 2002

:

Over the next two decades the city rebounded, and while Coney Island wasn't exactly born again, it did pick itself up off of the mat and begin to display the carnival-like exhuberance it had during my early childhood. During these years I gradually began to grow away from Coney Island, as many New York children have done as they grow up. I was busy with my career and friends; I took beach vacations to the Caribbean instead of spending the day out in Brooklyn; I visited new friends with summer homes on Long Island. Coney Island began to fade into a happy memory from my childhood.

Then in the late 90s, as talk began of creating a "new", refurbished Coney Island, I began to rediscover it. I started bringing friends who grew up far away from NYC out there, to discover the wonder of Coney Island, as I had decades earlier. I began to see it thru refreshed eyes - those of someone who was discovering it for the first time. I renewed old friendships with long-time amusement operators that I had know as a child. During this time of rediscovery, I began photographing Coney Island again, sharing my rediscovery of all its garish, joyful, historic wonderment.

Today, as the Coney Island that I (and so many other generations of children) grew up with is being threatened with extinction at the hands of developers who wish to turn Coney into New York's answer to Disneyland, I photograph the area to record the Coney Island of my youth, to remember things - like Astroland Amusement Park - that are no more, and to celebrate a childhood love.

DREAMLAND GIFTS on ZAZZLE

(A Division of The Flying Pig Gallery)

Coney Island Arcade sign, circa 2007

:

I have created DREAMLAND GIFTS as a division of my Flying Pig Gallery line to celebrate Coney Island and share my love of it. All the items feature original photography of Coney Island by me, Liza Dey, and are my own original designs. Items are available on Zazzle ( http://www.zazzle.com/lizadeyphoto*/gifts?cg=196100695498703970), and include a wide selection of items including apparel & shoes for both adults & kids; post cards, blank cards & other stationery items and home & gift items. Check out all the great products below and those only available in the online stores. Enjoy!

~ Liza ~

:

Coney Island Boardwalk on a Late Afternoon

Coney Island Boardwalk on a Late Afternoon
Coney Island Boardwalk on a Late Afternoon

Coney Island - View from the Fishing Pier

Coney Island - View from the Fishing Pier
Coney Island - View from the Fishing Pier

Sideshows by the Seashore (Surf Avenue & West 12th Street)

Sideshows by the Seashore (Surf Avenue & West 12th Street)
Sideshows by the Seashore (Surf Avenue & West 12th Street)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Great Coney Island Links

*** If you know of any other cool Coney Island links you think I should add, please feel free to contact me! ***

:

Vintage Postcard of Luna Park and Surf Avenue

Vintage Postcard of Luna Park and Surf Avenue
Vintage Postcard of Luna Park and Surf Avenue

New Luna Park Entrance (Created to Echo the Old Luna Park Entrance)

New Luna Park Entrance (Created to Echo the Old Luna Park Entrance)
New Luna Park Entrance (Created to Echo the Old Luna Park Entrance)

~ Coney Island Today and Into the Future ~

~ Today Coney Island is in a major period of transition as an attempt is made to revitalize an economically depressed area, while maintaining and honoring the historic nature of the area. Many new attractions have moved in in the past few years, leading the way to a revitalized Coney Island. At the same time a battle is on between big developers - Joe Sitt & Thor Equities - who want to create a Vegas/Disneyland style entertainment area at Coney, complete with huge hotels and luxury condos, and more preservation-minded organizations, who want to redevelop Coney Island while maintaining the true nature and look of the area. These are several links exploring the future and conflict over Coney Island. ~

The Boardwalk at Sunset

The Boardwalk at Sunset
The Boardwalk at Sunset

Other Great Squidoo Lenses

~ If you are a Zazzle or CafePress shop owner, and would like me to add your lens to this list, please contact me thru the Contact icon, above. ~

Other Zazzle & CafePress Stores

~ If you would like me to add your store to this list, please contact me thru the Contact icon, above. ~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Reader Feedback - I'd love to hear your comments on this page, or any of your own Coney Island stories you wish to shar

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens and beautifully written. It engaged me from beginning to end. The movies always made much of Coney Island and I thought it was just an amusement park with rides. Terrible thing about the way the animals were treated for the sake of human entertainment and that poor elephant that was executed will live on in my memory. You have a great style and I am looking forward to reading more of your lenses. Hugs

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks alot!

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for your great comments, Jim! I'm glad you enjoyed all the information on the lens; I really wanted this lens to be something that celebrates Coney Island, not JUST promote my work.

      This summer I shot a bunch of new stuff out at Coney Island, but haven't had the chance yet to work on creatively editing it. A lot of the images are of the new amusement park there, Luna Park, but I'm sure some of it will be converted to "ghosts-of-the-past" type stuff (love that description of it!). At the moment I'm just starting tackling some of it, as I create my 2011 Coney Island calendar. Because of holiday deadlines for seasonal stuff, I probably won't get to posting more Coney Island posters, etc. (besides the calendar) until after the New Year, but I'll definitely post here when I do post other new work!

      Good luck with the new apartment - I know how stressful moving can be! Best wishes -

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Love this page. I haven't read through it all yet but I'm very excited to. I'm moving into a new apartment and I want to decorate it with some Coney Island ghosts-of-the-past type stuff. I found your page searching for Coney Island posters. The playland arcade poster is particularly striking. I'm going to put an order in for one of those when I move in. Do you have more art like that maybe that hasn't hit the page yet? Lots of good stuff, but I'm always looking for more...

      I love Coney Island, in case that didn't come through in my comments, and I also wanted to thank you for putting together such a great wealth of information.

      Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      saw your site on FB ! good work !

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      this is great

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 7 years ago

      @tradecraftforsp: Thanks Trade! The reason I don't have Coney Island in the title is that the centerpiece of this lens is the section on my shop. My Coney Island line is called Dreamland Gifts, and I expressly want to promote it as its own unique line (separate from my overall store, The Flying Pig Gallery) using this page, so to NOT title the page Dreamland Gifts would defeat one of the chief purposes of it. I wanted to create a place where I could promote my Dreamland Gifts line, but something that was MORE than just an outlet for my store; something that would attract my key audience/customer base - Coney Island fans. So that (hopefully) the page becomes sort of a "go to" site for Coney fans, and while here researching, enjoying, celebrating, etc. Coney Island, they'd also discover my work and product line. So part of the whole point of this page IS to feature the name of the line - Dreamland Gifts. I DO have Coney Island as my primary tag, however, so it should go into search engines with this heavily featured.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Great tribute to Coney Island and your passion for photography.

    • tradecraftforsp profile image

      tradecraftforsp 7 years ago

      I can see there's a lot of information here :)

      But as others have said, you may want to focus on the words "Coney Island" as opposed to Dreamland, as it will really help in the search engine rankings.

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 7 years ago

      @LoKackl: Thank you so much! And thank you so much for the Angel Blessing!

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 7 years ago

      @delia-delia: Thank you! I'll definitely check your lenses out! I love old photos, of anything. They create a window into another time, and can make that time seem sooo real!

    • lizadeyphoto profile image
      Author

      lizadeyphoto 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • LoKackl profile image

      LoKackl 7 years ago

      Your love for Coney (Dreamland) Island and passion are contagious. SquidAngel Blessed.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      well done lens, well written with wonderful images...I love Coney Island it reminds me of the old days at Playland in San Francisco...you might enjoy some of the old photos on some of my lenses...my parents were into photography, dad owned two studios in Germany

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I really like the vintage great lens