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Luna Park’s Astro Tower is taken down amid fears it would fall

Ad astra: The 51-year-old, 270-foot-tall Astro Tower, the last remnant of Astroland, was reduced to a puny stub on July 4.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The Astro Tower looks much more earthbound now.

Amid fears that the defunct rotating observation tower would topple over, Luna Park, which surrounds the tower, and the city on July 4 tore down the pole that stood 270 feet tall.

Longtime Coney Islanders said they were heartbroken to see it gone. The tower was the last vestige of Astroland, a space-themed amusement area that opened in 1962 and came down in 2009 to make way for Luna Park.

“I’m very sad about it, and I’m sure anybody with any history in Coney Island is too,” said Carol Albert, whose late husband Jerry Albert founded Astroland and operated it until its demise.

On July 2, an unknown Coney Island visitor reported that the Astro Tower was swaying in the wind. The witness’s emergency call caused a panic and the Fire and Buildings departments evacuated Luna Park in order to investigate. Much of the People’s Playground was shut down for the next 48 hours.

A Luna Park spokesman downplayed the danger that afternoon, arguing the tower was designed to bend in the breeze. The spokesman suggested that the person who reported the leaning tower had been overzealous.

“Not sure why there is a problem here,” the spokesman said.

But the next day, the city began talking with the fun zone’s management about dismantling the structure.

The leaning tower also forced the closure of Wonder Wheel Park on W. 12th Street on July 3. However, Wonder Wheel’s owner Dennis Vourderis said he did not think the Astro Tower’s swaying had been especially severe.

“It didn’t seem any worse than usual, and I’ve only been here 43 years,” the amusement owner said at the time. Vourderis’ father bought the park’s eponymous ferris wheel in 1983, after owning a nearby concession stand for more than a decade.

Both Luna Park and Wonder Wheel Park re-opened on Independence Day, but Luna had to tear the tower down.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

Tower to fall?: The city said it was in talks with Luna Park to dismantle the 51-year-old Astro Tower.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

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