Archive

Coney Island


George Michael (1963 – 2016), “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1” 1990

(Re-post from July 19, 2011…)

Advertisements

Filed under Exhibitions in our electronic filing cabinet:

New York Review of Books:

Raunchy, Raucous Coney Island
By J. Hoberman

…Its subject is the mental construct “Coney Island”—an illusion filtered through such earthy sensibilities as the tabloid photographer Weegee, the American scene painter Reginald Marsh, or the anonymous artisans who created the banners and signage for Coney’s attractions.

Coney Island peaked as a people’s playground during World War II and began its slow decline when the largest of the amusement areas, Luna Park, burned to the ground in the summer of 1944. Although Weegee’s stunning news photo of the ruins, showing two forlorn painted hearts above a lone fireman in a sea of wreckage, gets smaller play than it might, the image of absolute devastation haunts the exhibition’s final section…

Weegee and Morris Engel, his sometime colleague at the leftwing tabloid PM, are the show’s best-represented photographers…

… and the photos Weegee took of the World War II–era Coney Island crowd from a vantage point on the Steeplechase Pier…

1940_07_22_pp16-17
PM, July 22, 1940, pp. 16-17

We just stumbled on this classic post:

(first drafts)

There were a number of attempts by Weegee to make the famous Coney Island photo…
Here are some of them:


PM June 17, 1940, pp.16-17
(The first draft of the first draft of the first draft of history…)

Weegee’s photos of the crowd at Coney Island, presumably made on July 21, 1940 (perhaps in chronological order)…

The number of variants, or number of exposures, or photos that Weegee made of the same scene is something that interests us a great deal. The version of this photo that was published in PM on July 22, 1940, is not the same photo that appears in the all of the Weegee books, from Naked City to Weegee’s World… A prominent photo agency (Corbis) has a number of variations on their web site…

An early “version” of, or attempt at, this photo was published in PM on June 17, 1940, in a trial or test version of the paper, a day before PM started publishing, a day before Volume one, Number one…

ny_herald_tribune_1944_02_28-2
New York Herald Tribune, February 28, 1944 (Photo by Weegee)
Fire Destroys ‘the World’s Largest Scenic Railway’ at Coney Island
Firemen fighting the four-alarm fire which razed the Thompson Scenic Railway late Saturday Night. Minor damage was done to concessions in adjacent Luna Park and to ties of the B.M.T. elevated tracks, causing the rerouting of all trains on four lines.”

_IMG_3591-2
Weegee, Unknown Weegee, February 28, 1944, p. 40 (Photo by Weegee)

_daily_news_1944_02_28-2
Daily Mirror, February 28, 1944 (Mirror Photo, presumably not by Weegee)
“FOUR-ALARMER IN CONEY ISLAND. Hundreds of firemen, coast guardsmen and wardens were called out to combat a spectacular week-end fire which reduced to these ruins Coney Island’s Scenic Railway, called the oldest and largest amusement device in U.S. Unused Luna Park property and adjoining concessions were damaged. The orgin of the blaze is unknown.”

ny_times_1944_02_28-2

ny_times_1944_02_28a-2
New York Times, February 28, 1944 (Associated Press, presumably not Weegee)
“Coney Island Scenic Railway After it Was Gutted by Flames
The L.A. Thompson landmark – called one of the oldest and largest amusement devices of its kind in the country – was destroyed by fire on Saturday night. It is adjacent to famed Luna Park and four alarms were turned in before the blaze was under control.”

pm_1944_02_28_IMG_3592-2
PM, February 28, 1944, (PM Photo by Weegee)
“Plug for Wimpy by Weegee
An auxiliary fireman handing coffee to rain-soaked firefighters at the Thompson Scenic Railway fire at Coney Island yesterday poses long enough to give Weegee this picture.”

(It’s fascinating that while photographing the tragedy of a large fire at Coney Island, Weegee also made this funny foto of a coffee-toting fire-buff goofing around with Wimpy the hamburg-loving cartoon character and friend of Popeye. And that this is the photo that PM published of the fire…)

weegees_ny_IMG_3594-2
Weegee’s People, 1946


Irrelevant: Popeye, Amusement Park (1947), from youtube – here… “It’s marvelous…”

coney-is-yale
Coney Island, Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, “Edited by Robin Jaffee Frank; With contributions by Charles Denson, Josh Glick, John F. Kasson, and Charles Musser,” 2015

Image and quotes from the Yale U. Press website.

“This dazzling catalogue highlights more than 200 images from Coney Island’s history, including paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, posters, film stills, architectural artifacts, and carousel animals. An extraordinary array of artists is represented…” including Weegee and Weegee and Weegee.

We haven’t gotten our greasy, hypo-stained paws on this book yet, but if you judge a book by its cover, this book is a good one…