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At Coney, the past is a present • Brooklyn Paper

At Coney, the past is a present

Charlie Denson will move the Coney Island History Project from the Cyclone (below) into safer space inside Wonder Wheel Park.
The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

You wouldn’t know it from looking, but the grim apartment towers on the western end of Coney Island’s amusement area was once home to an enormous, red-eyed model elephant.

And the overgrown land beyond Keyspan Park’s left field fence? That used to be Steeplechase Park.

Learn this and more in the Coney Island History Project’s new audio/visual walking tour, a free easy download that its creator hopes will push the latest Coney revival plan towards honoring the neighborhood’s past.

“History sells!” said the project’s Executive Director Charlie Denson.

The audio tour includes wonderful anecdotes about the speculators, swindlers and scoundrels who developed — and demolished — Coney.

That context is best evoked during the walking tour’s take on Keyspan Park — built adjacent to the Steeplechase Park ruins to bring people down to Coney Island in a similar spirit of outdoor summer fun, Denson said.

“Keyspan is proof that you can develop Coney Island without going out of scale,” he said.

Coney Island walking tour can be downloaded at www.coneyislandhistory.org/index.php?g=tours.

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