Posted November 17, 2000, 8:55A | Contributed by Jeff

According to Justin Garvanovic, of ECC's First Drop, the Coney Island Thunderbolt has been demolished. The Thunderbolt was a 1925 John Miller coaster that has been standing but not operating for a number of years.

November 17, 2000, 9:46A

millrace

My fears have come true! Awful awful news. I've been wishing for years now that something useful would be done for that coaster. Coney Island is such a mess!
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November 17, 2000, 10:29A

FloorlessSUE

Another sad day for rollercoaster enthusiats and the continual decline of what was once a great park
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November 17, 2000, 10:48A

coasterpunk

Thats horrible if it's true. I'm glad went to Coney Island in August. I took several pictures of it. It looked very similar to the Cyclone except the T-Bolt has a double up or down. From what I heard it delivered a fiercer ride than the Cyclone. Does anyone know Steve Urbanowitz(SP?)? He works at Astroland.

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November 17, 2000, 11:31A

coaster0

NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! :( :( :( :( :( *cry*

That coaster liked so cool!

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Ride: Roller Coaster
I know its a roller coaster...what's the real name?
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November 17, 2000, 12:53P

Intamin Fan

It's a shame it couldn't have been rescued like The Wild One and The Phoenix. Then again it may not have been worth salvaging.
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November 17, 2000, 1:03P

2Hostyl

To kinda piggyback on Intamin Fan's post, couldn't some other park re-build it from the blueprints? From reports I have read, very little of the coaster would have been salvagable anyway. But I see no reason why a park *coughKNOEBELScough* couldn't rebuild the design from scratch.
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November 17, 2000, 3:09P

john peck

john peck's avatar When did this happen???? And where in the heck was !?
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November 17, 2000, 3:20P

FloorlessSUE

Guliani should be straped to a rocket to the sun!
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November 17, 2000, 3:39P

coastersbysteve

Another sad day in the life of an enthusiast. Let us all hope no more "go away" in this fashion "because they are ugly".

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http://communities.msn.com/coastersbysteve
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November 17, 2000, 6:36P

Chitown

How long has the Thunderbolt been closed? Is Coney Island a city owned park?

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"DONT FIGHT IT, RIDE IT",,,,RAGING BULL
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November 17, 2000, 7:52P

MooreOn

Well the Thunderbolt has finally entered coaster heaven along with the Tornado and countless others. It's a shame that the world is continually losing so many great old coasters. Has anyone ever seen pictures of the Coney Island Tornado (also known as the Bobs earlier in existence)? I believe it was razed in the mid-70's. From the pictures I've seen, this ride (a Prior and Church creation) looked fiercer than the Thunderbolt and even the Cyclone. What a shame! Some park needs to rebuild a few of these classics.
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November 17, 2000, 8:42P

Dutchman

New York's Coney Island is not really a park, but grouping of individual amusements. There are two amusement parks operating there (Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and Astroland).There are a number of rides and attractions that lease lots/buildings either along Surf Ave or on the boardwalk side. Some of the property is privately owned, and some is under the jurisdiction of one or several NYC depts.
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November 18, 2000, 12:34A

john peck

john peck's avatar Is Guliani still active Mayor?
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November 18, 2000, 8:27A

Dutchman

There have been several attempts at eliminating Coney Island. The most noteworthy were the efforts of the late Robert Moses, who was the city's head of parks and beaches. He HATED Coney Island and brought about ordinances that has led to the slow decay of the area. He wanted to bulldoze the entire amusement district and put in trees and grass. He did not totally suceed,but the low income housing the city put in did not help the neighborhood any either.
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November 18, 2000, 5:29P

dcablemon

Sad to hear it. Yes it was a very rough ride in its last days. It has been closed for many years now, just falling apart. The Tornado, Coney Island's other coaster burned down sometime in the 70's. This leaves just the Cyclone left, still the best woodie in the world.
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November 20, 2000, 7:04A

millrace

Chitown: I think the Thunderbolt closed in 1982 after the death of its owner (who reportedly lived in the house under the ride).
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January 25, 2001, 12:06A

E. J. Maffei

This is so sad. The Thunderbolt had a home underneath it which was the inspiration for the similar home depicted in "Annie Hall". I had my last look at it in later Summer 2000. It was very overgrown and looked like it would need a ton of wood replacement.

WRT the ride quality of the Coney Island Thunderbolt vs. Tornado vs. Cyclone: The Cyclone, the only survivor, is happily by far the best of the three. The Thunderbolt was a really good ride but just not as downright terrifying/thrilling as the Cyclone. (My last Thunderbolt ride was the summer of 1980.) The Tornado was quite a different sort of coaster; it had a cool start that went into a short underground tunnel, but bottom line, it was kind of nasty; no real big drops but rather a bunch of evil twists and turns that just tossed you around left-to-right alot. It actually hurt!
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February 3, 2001, 3:36P

Mariano

coney island is a dump! they have nasty ride ops who proply dont have a licens to run the rides! and when ur riding the cyclone they open the lap bars even before the ride stops! and if u ride the badck seat alone u better pray! u will get hurt! i sat in the back seat alone and i got the wind knocked out me! now i have heard of rockem and sockem rides but not crack and beat ! sorry they need some new cars on the coaster serouly! as for the thuderbolt its a shame how ace saves alot of coaster and they missed that one!! its a crying shame!! i am upset at that thank fully i got pics of it b4 it was gone!
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December 20, 2003, 4:59P

bumblebee22

News Watch

City Faces Suit Over Demolition
Of Coney Island Roller Coaster

New York Lawyer
July 11, 2003

By Tom Perrotta
New York Law Journal

A lawsuit that alleges former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani orchestrated the demolition of a Coney Island roller coaster because of a vendetta and a desire to please the New York Mets can proceed but on limited claims, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Southern District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan dismissed all claims against Mr. Giuliani personally, but said the plaintiffs had withstood a motion for summary judgment on other claims against the city and its officials.

The suit, filed by the owners of the Thunderbolt roller coaster, alleges the city tore down the thrill ride without giving the owners any notice and in violation of procedural due process, since it failed to follow the Unsafe Building Procedure in the Administrative Code.

The city contends it can demolish a building without obtaining permission from state Supreme Court, even though the UBP does not specifically allow it to do so. The city also contends it sent several notices to the owners, but that the addresses on their letters were incorrect.

The roller coaster had been out of use since 1983 when it was demolished in 2000, during the construction of KeySpan Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a New York Mets farm team. The Thunderbolt was built in 1926 and had wooden tracks with a steel structure. It was featured in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall."

On the day the Thunderbolt was torn down, mounted police officers were sent to the home of the roller coaster's caretaker, Andrew Badalamenti. Mr. Badalamenti, a former horse caretaker for the city Police Department, knew the officers, who told him the roller coaster was being taken down.

When Mr. Badalamenti told the officers he wanted to call his boss, Horace Bullard, they asked him to go to a diner in Sheepshead Bay for breakfast. From there, Mr. Badalamenti called Mr. Bullard, who ordered him to "get down there" and identify the people demolishing the Thunderbolt.

The officers told Mr. Badalamenti that he would get in trouble if he went to the roller coaster, and took him to the nearby police barn. Mr. Badalamenti testified that no force was used and he felt free to go at any time.

The Thunderbolt's owner, Wantanabe Realty Corp., and its principal executive, Mr. Bullard, allege that Mr. Giuliani ordered the demolition because the owner of the Mets, Fred Wilpon, thought the roller coaster would be an eyesore for Cyclone fans.

Claims Dismissed

Mr. Bullard also contends that the former mayor wanted to retaliate against him for a suit he had filed against the city when unrelated efforts to develop part of Coney Island fell through, and because the mayor had racial animus toward Mr. Bullard, who is half black and half Puerto Rican.

Judge Kaplan said the plaintiffs' evidence of racial animus by the former mayor was "utterly lacking."

"No doubt recognizing their complete failure of proof, plaintiffs ask the Court 'to take judicial notice of Mayor Giuliani's stormy relationship with minority, particularly African American . . . communities' as a basis for inferring racial animus," the judge wrote in Wantanabe Realty Corp. v. City of New York, 01 Civ. 10137.

The judge also dismissed all procedural due process and equal protection claims. In addressing the due process claim that alleged the city failed to follow the UBP, the judge said the city tried to offer notice, and he noted that 77 days passed from when the city made an emergency declaration concerning the roller coaster to when it was demolished.

"As there is no evidence that the inaccuracies in the notices were deliberate, there is no basis for concluding that any effort was made to demolish the structure without giving advance notice to the owner," Judge Kaplan wrote.

Inspection Questioned

But Judge Kaplan said federal and state substantive due process claims could proceed, citing the inspection the city conducted before it demolished the roller coaster and the way it reached its conclusion.

Schoefield Padmore, the building inspector who assessed the roller coaster in August 2000, viewed it only through binoculars and took photographs with a zoom lens.

His photos have never been produced, and the plaintiffs say his findings in a special report — that the Thunderbolt was deteriorating and should be demolished — are not credible. The plaintiffs also point to an Environmental Control Board notice filled out by Mr. Padmore, in which he cited a choice in remedies: make the Thunderbolt safe or demolish it.

Judge Kaplan cited testimony from Tarek Zeid, Brooklyn borough commissioner for the Department of Buildings, that Mr. Padmore was not qualified to judge the structural integrity of the roller coaster's steel frame.

"In all of the circumstances, the Court cannot exclude the possibility that the issuance of the Emergency Declaration was not merely wrong or ill-advised, but outrageously arbitrary," the judge wrote.

He added: "A reasonable trier of fact, at least on the present record, could find that [Mr.] Zeid had no responsible basis for determining that there was sufficient reason to demolish the roller coaster and that he knew it."

The judge said the same could be said for Darral Hilton, the chief administrative inspector for the Department of Buildings in Brooklyn, who consulted with Mr. Zeid on the final determination to demolish the Thunderbolt.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Gabriel Taussig, who represents the city, said he believed the city would ultimately prevail in the litigation.

"We believe that a jury will agree with us that there were no violations," Mr. Taussig said.

Barry S. Gedan, who represents Wantanabe Realty Corp., said: "We are gratified that the decision holds that the city failed to establish a basis for the demolition of a historic and irreplaceable roller coaster, but respectfully believe that the decision was incorrect in other respects."

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