Au Revoir, Coney Island

Barring an after-the-last-minute reversal, it looks like Coney Island's Astroland amusement park is going to close. Co-owner Carol Albert has announced that, after long negotiations with the developers who bought the property, she has reached an impasse and told her employees that Sunday, September 7, will be their last day of employment, and the end of the Pirate Ship. Dante's Inferno, the Scrambler, and a number of other long-lived, iconic amusements, games of chance, and souvenir stands.

"The safety of our customers and our commitment to employees means our time has run out," Albert said. "Ride parts must be ordered a minimum of eight to 10 months in advance. My employees cannot live in a state of limbo any longer... We are out of time."

She invited "all New Yorkers" to "come to Astroland this weekend to bid farewell to this historic icon."

Coney Island's Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, as designated landmarks, can't be touched, but it's likely that next summer things will look very different on the Boardwalk between Nathan's and the Aquarium.

For three years Thor's Joe Sitt, owner of the property, has been announcing great plans for the area, including a massive, Vegas-like "strip" of attractions and accommodations. But thus far he has only placed, then withdrawn, small amusements. Mainly he has been taking things away. He started by tearing out the batting cages and go-carts in 2007, and has been slowly nibbling at it since. It is expected that he'll ultimately content himself with luxury condominiums on the beachfront property, and whatever businesses might sustain such units and prevent its residents from having to go into the crime-ridden, adjacent neighborhood for supplies.

Readers are advised to go the Kinetic Carnival and attend its old videos of Coney Island, or rent Ric Burns' Coney Island documentary. Soon enough, that's how you'll be remembering this place.

Image adapted from a Flick photo by bobjagendorf and used under a Creative Commons license.


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