After a long, not so cold winter, it so nice to know that summer is right around the corner. Alex and I couldn’t be more excited because for us, at New York Local Tours, summer means one thing: Coney Island!
On March 20th, they are holding the annual Blessing of the Rides, and then Coney is open for business. So Alex can ride the Cyclone and I get to hold onto her purse and watch.
What? Roller Coasters are scary…
We’ve been working hard the past few weeks to get our summer season ready, and a lot of that energy has been going to developing new relationships with the community down in Coney Island. We have met with The Alliance for Coney Island to discuss becoming members, we are meeting with the New York Aquarium, and, as always, working with our partner in crime, Caley Vickerman of the Guerilla Haiku Movement to create more awesome Scavenger Hunts!
But sometimes, amidst all the work, it’s important to cut loose and have a good time. For Alex and I, we really tore it up at the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit entitled Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland (#We’re80).
For those of you who haven’t gone yet, seriously, go check it out. There’s only one week left. The exhibit consisted of paintings, photos and even film-shorts all about Coney Island from the mid-19th century up through 2008. The whole thing was very well done and I felt that visitors were leaving with an even better understanding of what Coney Island means to Brooklyn than when they first walked in the door.
When we first arrived there was an informal tour going on led by an docent of the Coney Island exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It took every fiber of my being not to be a dick and commandeer the tour, but I was able to resist, and quietly eavesdrop. The docent really knew her stuff, and I was really impressed with her level of Coney Island knowledge.
They had all sorts of old film-shorts of the various Coney Island Amusement Parks that showed what the rides used to look like. I just love these. The rides were so ridiculous and frightfully painful and I can’t imagine them existing today. Seriously, the Human Pool Table alone would get any amusement park sued into oblivion… So we watched the shorts and clapped our hands.
The only part that was a touch difficult to watch was the video of Thomas Edison using electricity to turn an elephant into cat food. After years of physical abuse, Tops the Elephant went crazy and killed his horrible trainer. People decided that it was time to put Tops to death, and Edison volunteered to be the executioner in order to show how dangerous AC current was. So, he hooked the elephant up to a giant electrode and gave Tops the chair, naturally videotaping the whole thing. The story of Tops the Elephant might be one of the saddest things I’ve personally ever heard. For those of you with a strong stomach, feel free to check it out. The video is on Youtube, if you are so inclined. Be warned, it’s not easy to watch.
So, in the end we both laughed, I cried, and both realized that we’re huge nerds. It was a beautiful exhibit that did an excellent job of touching on the nostalgia of what Coney Island once was, and what it could be in the future.
Coney Island is our favorite place in the city. If you haven’t been, get your buns down there…and maybe take a tour…