Published: September 8, 2008 at 7:55 PMUgh. My apologies to Ben James, who submitted a post on this that I missed as I was writing mine. I wanted to include this from his post, though:
Interesting to note, Thor [the investment company that owns the park's land] plans to break ground next year on a $1.5 billion complex including high-rise hotels and New York's first new roller coaster since the wooden Cyclone was built 75 years ago.
Published: September 9, 2008 at 4:57 AMEhh I'm from the Bronx so I knew about this. Tried to make it out once a year. The only rides really worth doing were Cyclone and Wonder-Wheel. And from what I understand those will remain open.
Published: September 9, 2008 at 11:22 AMIt is a sad day here in New York City. Granted, Astroland was an old run down park. However, it was the only real amusement park in the City. Otherwise, one has to go to Rye Playland upstate or Adventureland on Long Island and these are nothing special either. There was some excitement when Disney was eyeing the land on Coney Island before Thor bought the property. Unfortunately, that never came to pass and was unlikely in the end. Nevertheless, someone needs to come in to New York City or somewhere nearby to build a quality theme park. It is a shame that this great city doesn't have a quality park to call its own. A well-invested park that takes the weather into account could be a huge success in the biggest city in the country.
Published: September 9, 2008 at 2:07 PMStill want to ride the Cyclone. Yes I love the mega-parks getting down to Disney World about once a year and squeezing my local Kings Island. But, there is something so historic and "Americana" about a ride like the Cyclone that draws me. Alas - haven't been yet...
Published: September 9, 2008 at 4:33 PMI grew up in NJ but never went to Coney Island so I don't have any deep feeling about Astroland ending. However, I spent many days at Palisades Park before it ended around 1970 and know that I missed going there. It was sort of local, kind of weird and a lot of fun for a kid. Palisades Park died because the land became so valuable it would have been super stupid for the owners not to sell. Astroland found a similar fate and I feel sorry for all the locals and kids who will miss it.
Published: September 9, 2008 at 10:45 PMAstroland was squeezed out by the company that bought the land a couple of years back. There has been an ongoing struggle between the city and Thor Equities, the owners of the Astroland real estate and everything around it. Plans for a overhauled amusement district have been floating around for quite a while. The plans look pretty good from an amusement standpoint, but the problem is that they involve the construction of a handful of high rise condos in the amusement district...which is zoned as non-residential. The city wants to keep whats left of the Coney Island amusement district (it used to be several times it's current size) intact, so the grand plans that Thor has for Coney Island have hit a few walls.
According to what I've read, the owners of Astroland wanted more than just a one year lease...a fair request given the nature of the amusement park business, but according to the owners, Thor Equities did not respond. Of course there are two versions of the story, but I can see why Thor would want them out. They were by far the most high profile, and most profitable amusement operation on Coney, and one that hindered the "progress" of the company.
While the renderings and ideas for the amusement district show promise, building condos would spell the beginning of the end of 120 years of Coney Island's amusement district. Once they get hooked on the money coming from those condos, they will get greedy and want more, and the amusements will be slowly squeezed out. It's the nature of the beast...always needing fed more and more money. Amusement parks can be a good investment and a money maker, but not nearly as profitable and safe as a bunch of condos.
While many theme park fans don't appreciate the significance of Coney Island because of it's current state, the fact remains that the theme/amusement industry was born and developed in, and copied several times from Coney Island. Without it's past success, there may have been no industry, no Disney, no Universal, no Busch, etc..etc. It's decline is a rather sad story, and it's appreciation came way too late. Coney will be a sad place next summer.