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The Last Year For Astroland And Coney Island Will Never Be The Same

This morning I heard some disturbing news on the radio. The Coney Island amusement park (AKA the Astroland Amusment park) has been sold to a real estate developer, at least according to the NPR story I woke up to. Everything save the cyclone, an official landmark, will be torn down and made into…What exactly? That is the question.

When I first heard the news I was blurry with sleep but this got my blood pumping. It’s sacrilege to tear down Coney Island! After all, I have yet to go on all the rides! I’m thinking what – more luxury rentals by the sea? Is there no one else who wants to see some things remain the same? Ugh, I feel old. It’s an ugly thought this early in the morning. But what about preservation of an icon?

And that’s really it. It’s not so much that I want to preserve a slice of my own experience because I don’t have memories of family outings to Coney Island. My family, with roots in Brooklyn, never went there. It wasn’t until I went to Brighton Beach as an adult that I got to witness The Cyclone up close with my own eyes. And I must admit I was afraid to go on it because it seemed, well, a tad rickety. However these rides are a piece of New York history! They’re a classic. I want Coney Island and all the wacky wanderers who abound from clowns to mermaids to creeps to be there always – to have a place to shine. After all, it’s why Coney Island’s amusement park and boardwalk has been the colorful backdrop for many a movie, book, video, commercial and parade for years.

I depresses me to think how the world is changing. It’s getting so cleaned up. Everything with any grit, any true personality –originality–is being taken down in favor of what I’m calling the bland branding-down of America. I love how unsafe Coney Island is from fashion to freaks. Do they know what they are taking apart when they tear this slice of Americana down?

And then in my semi sleepy state – I thought I heard something hopeful. Something odd about wanting to make Coney Island like Dubai. A multi-million dollar entertainment resort. There was brief talk of making a snow mountain. And while I have no idea if that’s true or even possible in a place that gets pretty hot during the summer months – it definitely seemed like the best case scenario. If you have to go out with the old and in with the new – at least ushering in something as wild and far-fetched as Dubai seems like a suitable modern day replacement for Astroland and all that goes with it.

While the plans have yet to be approved I remain dubious. And also determined to ride the rides at Coney Island this summer for the first and last time.


My name: Amy is my name, but I'll answer to Ame, Ames or Aimee.

How I earn my keep: My beat is travel, but my passion is collecting stories from people I meet on the road.

Hotel I could move into: Must I pick only one?! The Palacio Duhau a Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires tops my list. For the stunning restoration of the palace and tasteful new tower that create a thoughtful intersection of old and new. Every public and private space captivates. I'd move for the grand Alvear entry as much as for the manicured garden. For the wine and cheese tastings, the dulce de leche, the art gallery, the flower shop and for all the careful attention to detail that went into creating a hotel that is transcendent. If I were to pick a hotel that most felt like me, it would be The Inn at the Manor in the Cotswolds. Oh, I could definitely live there curled up with a book in a leather chair in the bar or outside among the English wildflowers. If I wanted to live in a land far away, the Ngoro Ngoro Crater Lodge would make a unique home with a view of the crater floor from every room (including the loo!), sumptuous beds, endless roses and the most unusual neighbors - massive water buffalo who won't bother you if you stay close to your Maori guide.

If I won the lottery, I'd live in: A historic farmhouse with an enormous barn and hundreds of acres tucked into a small town in New England or a Malibu beach house with stunning views and the surf just steps away. On second thought, winning the lottery means I could jet from coast to coast and enjoy them both.

Favorite way to get around: By foot. Whether in the city or country, I find the best way to get to know someplace is ambling around to discover and sample the distinct sights, sounds, smells, and tastes a place has to offer.

View that took my breath away: Looking toward the sky in Arusha and watching black and white Colobus monkeys scramble among the treetops, jumping from one tree to the next, floating through the sky like a primate version of Superman. Monkeys know how to have a good time!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: The place I visited last. What can I say? I'm fickle.

Follow me on twitter @amyziff



hey Amy,

The ongoing rezoning hoopla has left many people with the wrong idea that all of Coney Island closed in 2007 or 2008. I work in Coney and can tell you it’s just not true! We are devastated by the closing of Astroland in Sept 2008, but Coney Island will indeed be open for business in 2009. Please visit!

Coney Island attractions that will *definitely* be open in 2009:

The Coney Island Sideshow, Coney Island Museum, Mermaid Parade, Burlesque at the Beach, Coney Island Film Festival, Coney Island Film Society (Saturday Nights), Ask The Experts Lecture Series, Creepshow at the Freakshow, Tattoo and Motorcycle Show, Freak Bar

The Cyclone Roller Coaster

The Coney Island History Project (exhibition center under the Cyclone on Surf Ave)

The Wonder Wheel and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park

Eldorado Bumper Cars & Arcade

McCullough’s kiddie park (Bowery & 12th St)

Polar Express ride & 12th St Amusements

Coney Island Arcade & games (Bowery)

Lola Staar’s Boutique (new location in Stillwell Station)

Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink (Child’s Bldg on the Boardwalk)

Coney Island Beach Shop (Stillwell Ave behind Nathan’s plus new location in Stillwell station)

Denny’s Ice Cream

William’s Candies

Nathan’s & 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest

The Aquarium

Beach & Boardwalk

The Cyclones Baseball in Keyspan Park

Free Summer Concerts at Seaside Park

Surf and Turf Grill

Peggy O’Neill’s

various mom- and-pop businesses and lots more (we hope)…

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