Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Virgotex informs us all over at First Draft of the plans for the former site of Astroland (built on a parcel of land that once belonged to Steeplechase Park) on Coney Island.

Out of curiosity, I head for the Coney Island, USA website, find that a fellow I once knew briefly from my glassworking days is currently hosting an audience-participatory burlesque show over there (and still does a certain trick he performed once at a summer program I attended - I was talking on a phone near the hot shop with a friend of mine while a celebration of sorts was going on in there. The now-burlesque-host spoke into the microphone in his slightly drowsy voice: "Now I'm going to show you why they call me the Human Blockhead," and, presumably, he did just that, because I then heard a loud, "OH MY GAAAAD!!!!" coming from an audience member who didn't expect him to be driving a nail up his nose.), tried to download the plug-in to enable me to see the video concerning the Thunderbolt coaster's last days and somehow failed, and, in looking for said video on YouTube, I found this gem instead:

From the blurb accompanying the YouTube vid of Miss Knapp accompanying a group of boarding school girls on a Coney Island outing and barely keeping up with 'em, circa 1905:

Some girls go for an exotic ride on a genuine Arabian camel. There goes Miss Knapp, performing her dour duty. It's another bad edit and suddenly we're in William Reynolds's Dreamland. There's Henry Roltair's magnificent thirty foot tall bare breasted statue ''Creation'' which fronts the entrance to the show of the same name. The show consisted of moving multimedia dioramas presenting an edifying elocution of pertinent truth, ''morally instructive'' unlike the tawdry thrill ride ''Trip to the Moon'' that Luna Park offers. After the show it's a mad dash, some of the girls brave the ''roll the barrel'' ride, one of Steeplechase Park's many lunch eliminators. Miss Knapp just can't keep up. A quick ham fisted splice of the Helter-Skelter (yes, an American version of that Helter-Skelter on which the song was based) and we're back in Steeplechase watching the race track. Here come the girls, two on a horse. There's Miss Knapp way behind. She certainly is consistent! Ghasp! Apparently ''side saddle'' was not permitted.

Wonder if the proposed 21st century incarnation of Dreamland will have that bare-breasted statue?

And here's Coney Island not long after the time when my grandpa got stuck on the parachute jump, the tower of which still exists on the boardwalk today. The fire engine kiddie ride still existed a few years back, when my son got on it and didn't want to get off it. Luna Park is featured at the end.

Circa 1952, just passing its glory years.

1 comment:

virgotex said...

very cool stuff.

I remember my tiny mind being blown when I first read about the sheer numbers of people that would come to Coney Island on the weekends during it's early hey day (1900-20s).

Dreamland is a good read.