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Good Bye... Old Friend...

Discussion in 'Social Issues' started by Green Tea, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. Green Tea

    Green Tea Tequila Mockinbird

    Astroland Rides Into Darkness_________________________________________________

    Jun 1, 11:19 PM (ET)


    NEW YORK (AP) - On a Coney Island afternoon, as the screams echo from deep inside the haunted house and laughter rings above the thump of the bumper cars, the good times would seem destined to roll on forever at the Astroland Amusement Park.

    Carol Albert knows better.

    Her husband's family opened the venerable beachfront attraction in 1962, delighting generations of visitors across the years with its simple surfside charms. But the end is three months away at Astroland, which goes dark shortly after Labor Day - all the neon and the rides and the booths rolling out on a tide that will never return.

    In its place comes a planned $2 billion Coney Island makeover, a proposal to convert the once-seedy stretch of Brooklyn into a year-round stop with a swanky Vegas-style hotel and glitzy indoor attractions. Albert, who sold the 3-acre family property for an undisclosed price to developer Thor Equities last November, remains in intermittent denial about Astroland's impending demise.

    "It's like a lightbulb that goes on and off," Albert says. "There are moments when you really realize this is the last year, and you feel absolutely terrible. And then there's a flicker and you think, 'This can't be happening.'

    "I guess that's the best way to describe it."

    Albert sits in a nondescript two-story gray building, tucked off a street named for her late father-in-law, that serves as Astroland's cramped headquarters. Its walls are covered with pictures and memorabilia from 45 years in the amusement park business, a mini-museum of Coney Island history.

    When Dewey Albert debuted Astroland during the Kennedy administration, a New York Times story described the amusement park as "the first major project for frivolous purposes in Coney Island in 25 years."

    Its name reflected the Cold War space race and the future, with "space age rides" that replaced tamer local fare like the famous Feltman's Carousel. A red, white and blue rocket ship, now an artifact of the past, still rises above the rides with "ASTROLAND PARK" painted across its fuselage.

    Across the next four decades, the park became an anchor for the ever-changing neighborhood - surviving through hard economic times, urban renewal, racial tensions, the crack epidemic.

    "Coney Island was reflecting what was going on in larger society," Carol Albert recalls. "There were quite a few years here when there were very lean times."

    In recent years, as Coney Island rebounded, so did Astroland's fortunes. But now the neighborhood's rebirth will come partly through the death of Astroland, which faces extinction as surely as departed predecessors like Luna Park and Dreamland.

    "I certainly don't feel bitter," Albert says. "But I'm disappointed."

    For the park's employees, the last season brings the promise of emotional and financial upheaval once September arrives. Astroland employs 370 workers, many of them seasonal help (including a recent influx of Polish and Russian immigrants from neighboring Brighton Beach).

    The park's staff is a quirky bunch: The operator of the park's pirate ship ride comes in on his days off to climb aboard for a spin. "This is what I mean about unusual people," says a deadpan Albert.

    But many of its key personnel work 12 months a year, with careers going back more than two decades.

    Operations manager Mark Blumenthal is marking his 26th summer between the boardwalk and Surf Avenue. He's as much a part of Astroland as the smells of cotton candy and suntan lotion - except next summer, Blumenthal and the park will both be gone.

    "It's going to be very, very tough," he says evenly, walking down Astroland's main drag, a keen eye still cast toward the rides, the vendors, even the smallest piece of trash on the ground. "You know, I'm focusing on having a great year this year. The reality will set in a little later."

    Albert, a former writing teacher at Bryn Mawr College, has offered job retraining and placement programs to her less-skilled workers. Employees without high school diplomas can get their GEDs. The programs were set to begin in the fall, after the gates at Astroland are locked for good.

    Blumenthal pauses during his tour of the park to watch a baby carriage built for two swing past, carrying twins. He looks at the children and their mother before growing a little misty.

    "Sometimes people come up to say, 'I remember you from when I was small,'" he says. "That's when it hurts."

    The April opening of Astroland's last season kicked off with a Brooklyn tradition: Borough President Marty Markowitz smashed a bottle of chocolate egg cream against the Cyclone roller coaster.

    Reporters from Spain, Germany and the Netherlands turned out for the bittersweet beginning. A video crew for an HBO documentary recorded the scene.

    By Memorial Day 2008, Astroland's lot will house something very different - although it's unclear what.

    Thor spokesman Lee Silberstein declined to go into detail, saying only that "it is likely that interim uses will be introduced next year on Astroland." This summer, Thor is bringing an enormous inflatable water slide and a circus to two of its vacant Coney Island properties.

    If all goes according to plan, Coney Island's new incarnation debuts in 2011. Albert said she felt Astroland couldn't survive for three years during the construction, prompting her to peddle the family property.

    Among the locals, there's little doubt that the character of old Coney Island - "a combination of the U.N., and the circus, and some spontaneous act," says Albert - will disappear with the old tenants.

    And there's no doubt that personal touches like those brought by the Alberts will leave with them. Each spring, Astroland opened on weekdays around the Jewish holidays for the local Hasidic community.

    Before anyone arrived, the park's staff wrapped fabric around any overexposed mermaid figures in deference to the conservative guests. The park also hosted an annual day for the widows and children of dead police officers - an event recalled fondly by Coney Island native Louie Scarcella, who spent 28 years with the NYPD.

    Scarcella remembers opening day at Astroland, when crowds flocked to the 275-foot tall Astrotower (it's still there). He's spent his entire life in the neighborhood, and worked as a boardwalk carny before becoming a cop. He'll be around for closing day at Astroland, too.

    Scarcella knows the good times are supposed to return to Coney Island in a few years, but he wonders if it will ever be the same once Astroland is razed.

    "Once that's all gone, Coney Island's heartbeat will no longer beat," he says. "Coney Island is going to be put to sleep."

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  2. Green Tea

    Green Tea Tequila Mockinbird

    :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
  3. Bass

    Bass Well-Known Member

    Its sad, Same shit went down in Asbury Park when they wrecked the Palace Amusements building.
  4. Green Tea

    Green Tea Tequila Mockinbird

    ya.. i remember that.

    next their doing the steel pier over at Atlantic City...(or was it already done?)

    What they are doing is NOT making things more "modern" or "attactive", their just killing history for profit.

    fuck that shit, NY is already popping at the seams with people. do they REALLY need a vegas-themed "amusement" park to drag in more scum????

    JUST like fucking Uncle Milty's down here in Bayonne. all those years ago did they need to raze it just for a bunch of new YET ALREADY run-down projects that scum of the eath live in? i mean i wouldn't dare go to 1st street without a bulletproof vest! bayonne gone to hell, fuck, new jerseys gone to hell!!

  5. Bass

    Bass Well-Known Member

    NJ is turning into a suburb of NYC (not like it already wasnt, but it has gotten worse after 9/11)
    Housing prices have gone insane, and look at the crap they put up in Long Branch, on the beach front. They pulled that eminent domain crap on people that had lived there all their lives, offered them way less than market value for the houses, and put up condos that start at $800k. WTF IS THAT ALL ABOUT? The money most people were offered cant even buy them a decent house in Monmouth county, let alone a piece of beach front realestate like they had. Can you spell CORRUPTION?
  6. Green Tea

    Green Tea Tequila Mockinbird

    its just..
    messed up
    mad, mad world where the average joe can barely get by..
  7. scx1984

    scx1984 Lurker

    Sounds off to me. Up here when the government (which ever level) wants to annex land off of you, for what ever reason, they have to get an independent appraisal. Hydro One recently got 5 acres off of my father, across the back of his property, for a cross province hyrdo line. Appraisal, based off of actual value of land (how much Dad made off of it farming, how much it was purchased for and inflation) and current market value for similar parcels (road access, partial treed , river and size) were taken into consideration. The appraisal came back at $25 000 per acre, and of course Dad said OK. The land was purchased in 1921 for the sum of $1200.00 for 1500 acres. He inherited it from my Grandfather, who inherited off of his father. The cool thing is they let him clear the last trees off of it before he transfered it- the trees were Red Pines. Thats the type they use for hydro poles. Dad got $100.00 per tree and the guy came and cut them for him. They also granted him right of access to the land-he can still farm it so long as he does not interfere with Hydro One's operations.

    Anyhow, a procedure should be in place for that, and I am surprised it isn't. The only land they can take for what ever they want around here is land deemed "Allowance Lands" which are lands that you may populate, maintain and therefore pay taxes on. But if they want to widen the road or extend it, or run services through it, they can, but they have to give you what they determine as a fair market value, but it is not independently appraised. They also must incur the cost of surveying the land and adjusting all paperwork. In some cases they also pay for housing, relocation costs and such.

    Either way, it's sad to see such a landmark disappear. I have seen many sights of it, never in person, and have bear witness to the affect it has on pop culture. One of our more trendy restaurants serves "Coney Island Fries". Something tells me it wouldn't have the same appealing sound if it were called "Billion Dollar Megaplex Fries".
  8. SurfSarge

    SurfSarge misfit

    Thats why I got the Fuck out..Place is so expensive for
    being such a shithole..right next to the next biggest
  9. TGD_02

    TGD_02 Well-Known Member

  10. Green Tea

    Green Tea Tequila Mockinbird

    its addicting!
    and its simple and to the point. 8) ;D
  11. SurfSarge

    SurfSarge misfit

    We had to translate your Forum Jibberish to Bass the other day
    went somthn like this:

    Bass:What the hell is he saying?

    w.e mangz
    i aint got shit with the dude so dats wy im asking wtf went down
    ace? banned
    i was like lolzers
    and uh...
    teh gay

    HAHAHA I fuckn knew you'd say that

    Whatever man,I don't have anything against the guy and was curious to what was going on
    then I figured it was pretty funny that Ace got banned then I realized he was permantly banned
    yours Truly
  12. scx1984

    scx1984 Lurker

    Ahh. So I wasn't the only one having troubles from time to time with TGD's typing.... ;)

    I think someone may have to come up with a quick reference guide, but I'm slowly catching on. ;D
  13. SurfSarge

    SurfSarge misfit

    Yeah I got used to it really quick !!!!1 LoLRz