- Posted September 10, 2008 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Coney Island amusement park closing
Remembering Astroland of the 70s & 80s
Astroland was the most amazing place to spend summers as a child in the 1970s and 1980s. My first baby steps were on the Boardwalk, where I could always find my grandparents, great-grandparents, and so many other proud immigrants who called Coney Island and Brighton Beach their home. My great aunt sometimes took me for a stroll in my carriage to a very old Puppet Show theatre across the street. One of my uncles even knew Astroland’s founding family. Coney Island was just that kind of place…. where everyone was related through families or friends. I could hardly wait to grow taller so I could go on all the rides that the older children went on (without height and age restrictions)! Still I enjoyed the Himalaya, House of Mirrors, Moonwalk, and, later the Water Flume, the Bumper Cars, the Shooting Gallery, Tilt-A-Whirl, and Astrotower etc. Who could forget the sights, smells, and sounds of Astroland? It was an exotic place that defined fun and excitement for any child who entered those gates. Where else could a child go to a waterfront amusement park, savor tasty and colorful cotton candy, and enjoy the mist of the Atlantic Ocean every summer? How about Fourth of July Fireworks on the Boardwalk? Where else could a child have a postcard view of an electrifying place nestled between the world-famous Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, and Parachute Jump? What child could forget the kiddie boat rides at the adjacent Kiddie Park? When Astroland closed for the seasons, it gave every child another summer to look forward to. (Thankfully, Astroland was walking distance to the New York Aquarium, which was always a treat to visit, and the Animal Nursery, where there was a very unusual assortment of wildlife, including a camel with an appetite for coat buttons.) I now think that Astroland’s closure marks the end of an era. What saddens me most is that children today will not know the indescribable happiness and inspiration that Astroland provided for me and for generations of other children who could visit this far-out place in their own neighborhood. I am now an engineer and a licensed contractor who owns and operates her own companies. I would now like to post three nostalgic photos to share with others: The two front entrance photos to Astroland are from 1978. The third photo is an aerial view of Astroland from August 1983. While I think it’s great that Coney Island is being gentrified, I hope that the Mayor and others will rally to preserve Astroland and designate it as a landmark. There simply is no other place like Astroland and there will not be a substitute for it.