Tuesday, April 8, 2008


"Reclassified", what may turn out to be the penultimate episode of 'New Amsterdam', centered around the Astroland amusement park in Coney Island. As with many facets of life in New York City, 400 year old John Amsterdam knew a lot about the history of the area, and so he probably knew the Lenape Indians called the island Narrioch which means "the land without shadows".

John's people, the Dutch, called the place "Conyne Eylandt", which means "Rabbit Island" and which can be found on the New Netherland map of 1639. Apparently, when it was an island, the place was overrun with rabbits right up to the early 20th Century.

Several of the amusement park locations came into play during the episode; especially the Wonder Wheel ferris wheel, but also "Dante's Inferno" where Chechin mobster/snitch Nazir was hanging out when Amsterdam spotted him.

Most of the few remaining attractions at Coney Island are going to be razed to be replaced by housing and business developments. However, three of the rides at Coney Island are protected as designated NYC landmarks, as well as recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. So they're safe from getting torn down.

From Wikipedia:

1] Wonder Wheel. Built in 1918 and opened in 1920, this steel ferris wheel has both stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track. It holds 144 riders, stands 150 feet tall, and weighs over 2,000 tons. At night the Wonder Wheel's steel frame is outlined and illuminated by neon tubes. It is part of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

2] The Cyclone roller coaster, built in 1927, is one of the nation's oldest wooden coasters still in operation. A favorite of some coaster aficionados, the Cyclone includes an 85-foot, 60 degree drop. It is owned by the City, and operated by Astroland, under a franchise agreement. It is located across the street from Astroland.

3] The Parachute Jump, originally the Life Savers Parachute Jump at the 1939 New York World's Fair, was the first ride of its kind. Patrons were hoisted 190 feet in the air before being allowed to drop using guy-wired parachutes. Although the ride has been closed since 1968, it remains a Coney Island landmark and is sometimes referred to as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower."

John Amsterdam was in the area hoping to track down who shot his first partner on the force, Andy Gleason. The bullet couldn't be removed since it was too close to his heart and its lead coating caused Andy to get leukemia. After the case was solved, Andy asked John for one last favor - to ride the Wonder Wheel with him one last time, even though John was scared of heights. While they were near the top, Andy passed away.

Coney Island came into play with several other TV shows, two of them with events that happened in the past. From 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit', Detective Brian Cassidy can best describe what happened best at one of these situations:

"There was this guy in the hood that she liked, this guy named Vince. She went down to Coney Island to, uh, to see him. You know that whole 'under the boardwalk, down by the sea' thing? After Vince... did her... his whole set wolf-packed her. Seven, eight guys... she's not sure. Which is bad enough, Captain, but it just gets worse. They left her there, uh, by herself, in the cold, wrapped up in a beach towel. It was after dark, you know, and she couldn't walk. She just sat there in what was left of her... clothes, and this guy comes along and asks her if she needs some help, and she says, 'yes, please... thank you.' And this guy... this, uh... this Good Samaritan, he, uh... he..." (He then broke down, crying.)

The other connection to the Coney Island of Toobworld Past is more famous. When he was a boy, Ed Norton's beloved dog Lulu jumped off his lap in the Tunnel of Love to chase after a cocker spaniel. Ever since he lost Lulu, Norton walks in his sleep crying out "Luluuuuuu!", which of course drives his pal Ralph Kramden nuts. (From 'The Honeymooners') Ralph tried to cure the sleepwalking by getting Norton a new dog, but all that did was make the sewer worker walk in his sleep while carrying the new dog.

Once more from Wikipedia:
Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, whose family had owned the park since 1962, sold the site to developer Thor Equities in November 2006 for $30 million. Thor proposed a $1.5 billion renovation and expansion of the Coney Island amusement area to include hotels, shopping, movies, an indoor water park and the city's first new roller coaster since the Cyclone. The developers hope to start construction in 2007 and complete the project by 2011. However, recent deals allowed Astroland to operate for one more year; the park's opening day is set for March 16, 2008.

Toby OB

"Let me have Coney Island."
Father William Mulcahy

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