A Coney Island of the Mind? Nah. Just Coney Island.
April 13, 2009 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Here's a wonderful and visually creative document (complete with a curious and elaborate musical soundtrack and voices of actual barkers) of one full day in the life of Coney Island USA 1952. A fascinating glimpse of a bygone era! See also: Coney Island of the 1940s, and this color amateur film (with some surprisingly arty shots), Springtime at Coney Island 1944.
posted by flapjax at midnite (12 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
See also Little Fugitive, a great (and groundbreaking) Morris Engel film set in Coney Island in the 50's.
posted by swift at 8:23 AM on April 13, 2009

Nice. I have vague memories of Playland in San Francisco -- kind of a miniature Coney Island, and I've always lamented the demise of these things. Halls of mirrors, barrels of fun, giant gunny-sack slides 50 feet tall, wobbling walkways, with gusts of air to blow up girls' skirts -- these are some of my most treasured early memories.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:28 AM on April 13, 2009

Water Flume destructo-porn. :(
posted by milquetoast at 9:13 AM on April 13, 2009

As more and more of the Coney Island legend disappears with every year, footage like this makes me glad that, for a time at least, it existed at all. Thanks for the links, flapjax.
posted by Spatch at 9:15 AM on April 13, 2009

Oh this is wonderful. Thank you for this. I'm sending this to my mom today.

After my great-grandfather's wife died, he began to spend all of his money. As the owner of a shipyard and salvage service in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, he was a pretty wealthy man but destroyed by his grief. One of the things he would do was to take my grandmother, her brother and other family members to Coney Island. They would stop by Nathan's, a famous place that specialized in Coney Island Hot Dogs. There were two entrances to Nathan's, one for families to enter when they wanted to eat and another entrance for the bar.

My great-grandfather would send his family through the family entrance and then go sit in the bar. He'd ask the owner/manager to "put everyone's bill on his tab for the rest of the day."

My grandmother showed my mother canceled checks written to Nathan's for a thousand or so dollars. Impressive even for today, but even more impressive if you think about the cost of a Nathan's hot dog in the early 1900's.
posted by jeanmari at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

Whoops. Wrong link. The cost of a Nathan's hot dog in 1916 was 5 cents. I'm sure quite a few beverages were consumed as well to make up that $1,000.
posted by jeanmari at 9:30 AM on April 13, 2009

If I recall - the Harold Lloyd silent film, Speedie (1928), has a bunch of cool Coney Island sequences.
posted by jfrancis at 11:18 AM on April 13, 2009

The Crowd (1928) also has a scene early on set at Coney Island (and, if I recall correctly, was shot at Coney. I could be wrong on this count.)

It's also got a lot of other neat things going for it filmwise, so Spatch Bob sez check it out.
posted by Spatch at 12:00 PM on April 13, 2009

Ahhh. Coney Island, Palisades Park and Olympic Park.
posted by notreally at 3:16 PM on April 13, 2009

I went to Coney Island in 1964 and it was magic. I know it was 1964 because we also saw the World's Fair (I got a printout from a Univac computer). It was also the summer of the song "Under the Boardwalk," and I remember being amazed that was exactly where I was. Under THE boardwalk. The steeplechase ride was scary: you were sitting on a mechanical horse, you could fall right off and the ride was sudden stop and go. Only bigger, braver kids would go on the parachute jump. Inside there were huge slides that ended on a surface of circling disks. I went to a steambath (guys with cigars wrapped in towels) and my father bought me a warm potato knish with mustard on the boardwalk. It was magic. Then it went away.
posted by cogneuro at 3:46 PM on April 13, 2009

One of my favorite American Experience docs is "Coney Island" from Ric Burns (Ken's brother).

It focuses on the early years of Coney Island, around the time of the first "moving pictures" of the park, roughly 1900 thru 1910.

Has lots of spectacular night shots, especially of Luna Park accompanied by the eerie background music of Saint-Saens Aquarium from the Carnival of the Animals.

Sorry, the youtube link is just for the music. I can't find a clip of the Coney Island documentary online, but it's available at Amazon and highly recommended.
posted by marsha56 at 11:32 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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