Once renowned as a funspot, Coney Island has been largely forgotten. Does it still exist? What has survived of the place? And what was it like? In his new book CONEY ISLAND, Professor Solomon takes us there to find out.
Roaming about, he interviews old-timers' searches for antiquities, explores what is left of the amusement area. (Among his finds: a man who remembers seeing the first human cannonball, shot into the air at Coney Island; the remains of Steeplechase Park; and a ride "the Wonder Wheel"that began as a perpetual-motion machine.)
He also provides a history of Coney Island, from its Canarsie Indian days, to its era as a lawless, Tijuana-style resort, to the rise and fall of its amusement parks. On this historical tour, you'll meet such personages as John Y. McKane (notorious mayor of Coney Island); George Tilyou (amusement-park pioneer); and the Wild Man of Borneo (actually, an actor from the Bronx). And you'll visit the Pavilion of Fun, French Nudi! st exhibit, Elephant Hotel, Trip to the Moon, Insanitarium, Tunnel of Love, flea circus, Feltman's restaurant (where the hot dog was invented), and other vanished attractions.
The result is a fascinating profile of a unique, and persevering, place.