I stepped onto the walkway of the Manhattan Bridge around 9am. The Manhattan Bridge is a true mishmash of architectural styles – almost ‘arts and crafts’ style (I’ve been watching too much Antiques Roadshow). Unlike the Williamsburg Bridge that has had it’s walkways completely redone and the Brooklyn Bridge that is kept in pristine state for the tourists – the Manhattan Bridge walkway still has an urban NYC graffiti-filled feel. There are walkways on both sides of the bridge that line the very exterior of the bridge so you’re right over the water. It offers really beautiful views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront. Upon entering Brooklyn, you’re left off in the neighborhood Dumbo (Down Underneath the Manhattan Bridge). The Dumbo neighbor is mostly owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses (sp?) and they seem to occupy about 60 percent of the buildings – the rest of the neighborhood is high-end loft apartments and boutiques; needless to say, I quickly moved up Jay Street to the Fulton Street Mall.
One of my secondary goals was to check out the Gallery at the Fulton Street Mall as it is owned by Thor Equities, which is the company that is buying up property all over Coney with plans to build ‘something’. I arrived several hours before it’s opening so I didn’t get the chance to go in, but from the outside it looks like a typical city mall with lots of purse/luggage/sunglasses/cel phone stands anchored by a Toys-R-Us. Physically the building looks okay but nothing to get overly excited about. I didn’t see anything shop-wise that would make we want to go to Coney to shop. I honestly didn’t get a real feel for the space and will try to get back another time to check out the mall in operation. I walked down Fulton Street which was slowly waking up for what I’m sure was to be a busy Saturday up to Flatbush Ave.
Walking up Flatbush to Prospect park is part of my normal route so there was not that much new to me other than it’s a very pretty walk. Once I arrived at the park, I opted for a slightly different route to the parade grounds to see I could make a more direct path as I often walk the perimeter of the park. Again, the beautiful day definitely brought people out and the park was beautiful with the trees just coming into bloom. I walked pretty much down the center of the park, through the Ravine, which is a protected wildlife area over to the Wolman Ice Skating rink. Approaching the rink by the reservoir, there were three park workers standing around a marshy area where a beautiful large swan was perched on her nest obviously sitting on her eggs very protectively. You really had to be there, but one of the workers got a little too close and the swan started making some very aggressive noises and wing movements and one of the female park workers warned the other ‘don’t mess with it stupid - that thing will mess you up’. After that, I worked my way to the Park Circle exit at the far end of the parade grounds and walked over to Ocean Parkway.
Ocean Parkway is a very long and beautifully kept road that runs from Propect Part all the way to Coney. The houses and apartment buildings that line it are all very beautiful – and if any road in NYC-proper deserves to be called a parkway this would be it. And as nice as it is, it got a little monotonous after a while. I walked all the way to Avenue X and then crossed over to the F train and walked the rest of the way to Coney from there (this section is lovingly called the walk of death from the Conquest 2003 Mermaid Parade visit). I walked under the F train along the railyards til I passed under the BQE and then maneuvered over to 8th Street and walked the 4 blocks along the former site of Luna Park and the Scenic Railway to the Cyclone. I arrived at Surf Ave at exactly 12:15. While the walk was nice and a bit shorter, I think I prefer my scenic route – there’s simply more to see, especially the vast differences in neighborhoods.
Arriving at Coney, I really only had a few goals today – get some Cyclone rides, take my first ever Zipper ride, and just take a good look around to see if any noticeable changes had appeared with the Thor purchases. Astroland, Deno, and the B&B Carousel were all up and going and most of the boardwalk shops and eateries were open – the individual concessions slowly opened with everything open by 2pm.
I started with the Cyclone, paid my normal $5 and plopped myself into 3-3 (my favorite seat with all the forces and none of the pain). I love sitting there and listening to people that sit in the very last seat. After my first ride, I gave the ride-op a $20 and told him I wanted to re-ride for $20 worth which was today 7 more rides (it seems to vary from day to day, ride op to ride op – the regular re-ride price is $4.) Once again, the Cyclone was running extremely well, but I have to say the fifth drop is really jackhammering and the sounds from people in the back seat after that were well…extreme. Some poor young boy and his mom took their first ride ever in the seat and both got off in tears – another very rock-n-roll couple absolutely loved it and did it three more times – what can you say. Regardless, of your opinions of the Cyclone which I grow to love more and more with every ride – it’s a VERY forceful ride.
I meandered around Coney and grabbed a quick corn on the cob at Pete’s Clam Shack (on the far side of Nathans). Pete’s is another one of Coney’s secrets – Oysters and Clams on the half shell, the best corn on the cob and onion rings on the island. Plus none of the lines that you have to go through at the neighboring Nathans (which as years go by I feel is increasingly overrated) – give me a dog at Frank and Gregorys thank you very much. I walked all over the boardwalk, bowery, and side streets and there were absolutely no signs of the impending changes, but I really didn’t think there would be at this point. As much as I love Coney, the infrastructure is in great need of improvement. And as much as I dread the taming of rawness that is currently Coney – there is a desperate need for some sort of redevelopment. Around 2, it was about time to head over to the Zipper for my dreaded and anticipated first ride ever.
I don’t know what Chance rides were thinking in the late 60’s/early 70’s, but they obviously had some maniacal designer(s). I’ve never been on Zipper, they’ve always intimidated me – they just look evil. And if you ever get to see Dave ‘Flare’ Fraser ride one while executing his trademarked ‘Flareflipout’ you really know what this ride can do. Other Chance rides from this period The Turbo, Skydiver and the Toboggan have always puzzled me – they have low throughput and lean towards the sadomasochist crowd. I’ve only been on a Toboggan and while I’ll take the credit, I don’t see the need to ride one more than once. CI’s Zipper has attained a level of infamy as it’s run at full steam and they will allow single riders (if you’re big enough). Once inside my cage and pinned in nice and tight – I was somewhat amazed at the confined space and very relieved for the amount of added padding – I’m not sure how much padding a factory delivered Zipper comes with but this unit has obviously been given a lot of attention for head, leg, and back padding. In all honesty, the ride is in great shape and has been given a lot of TLC (as has their neighboring Spider).
Anyway, the ride starts and, in all honestly – it’s so completely disorienting you really don’t know where you are for most of it. About halfway through the forward cycle, my car starts to really flip – about 12 in a row and I all can really vocalize is ‘woah’ – it slows down and now time for the backwards cycle – holy sh*t – my car starts flipping and doesn’t seem to have any desire to stop – I lost track of the flips at around 20 and was simply at a loss for words – it was totally amazing and I can’t believe I waited this long to experience it. It definitely took me a little while to get my footing once back on ground. I can’t see riding this more than once a visit, but as long as it’s there I will always try to take a spin and I definitely have a new reverence for the ride. I have certain someone in mind that has sworn never to ride it for an upcoming visit in May.
Anyways, after that I had jumped on the train back to city for a late afternoon appointment and let’s just say I had a very solid night sleep after all of that. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!
Long Live the Saturn 6!
Jim ‘jimvid’ McDonnell *** Edited 4/17/2005 3:23:46 PM UTC by jimvid***
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