Tag Archives: Coney Island

“Spider Sent Me,” Paul Williams Sextette; Paul Williams; Spider Burks St. Louis, 1948

PM, July 5, 1942, p. 7

Coney Island At Noon Saturday

The crowd came later, according to Weegee who wanted a photo that showed some beach and not too many people. The masked man said that he was a laundry man, but would only be photographed incognito. The mask is a gag of his; he call himself the Spider, and likes to frighten people. Weegee didn’t get the names and addresses of the others in the photo, either. PM Photo by Weegee.
PM, July 5, 1942, p. 7

“Just Like a Spider,” Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup; Arthur Crudup, 1947

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…

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…

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.”

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

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.”


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, 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…)

Weegee’s People, 1946

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…

PM Newspaper 1941
PM Daily, January 20, 1941, Vol. 1, No. 154, p. 19
Weegee Revisits Coney Island… It’s Not Dead—Only Sleeping
By Weegee
“Having covered Coney Island last summer (July 21, 1940), and the picture getting a big play in PM then, I decided to take a ride out there Sunday and see what the Island looks like in winter time…”

Weegee Daily, January 20, 2013

Ceegee Revisits Coney Island… It’s Not Dead—Only Sleeping and Recovering From Super Storm Sandy
July 21, 2012                                                                   Jan. 20, 2013

By Ceegee
Having covered Coney Island last summer (July 21, 2012), and the picture getting a big play in Weegee Daily then, I decided to take a subway out there Sunday and see what the Island looks like in winter time.
On the way out to the Island there were no female straphangers to keep me company. What a difference from the summer time! Then I can choose between blondes and brunettes. (Where do all the straphangers go in winter time?)
Riding by the Gownus Canal on the F train, there were only a few girls on the bicycle path. They were all bundled up. I wasn’t going to waste memory and megabytes… No “cheesecake” (legs showing), no pictures.
I got to Coney by noon. The beach was deserted and so was I… On the boardwalk a lone man was getting a sun bath besides a closed hot dog stand.
I then took a walk through the rides and games of chance. Every thing was shut tighter than the Romney Hdqs.
As I passed by the Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore, Coney Island U.S.A. Museum, I wanted to photograph some of the wonders. But the place was closed.
All the skee ball and ice cream places were closed. The aquarium is still closed. But the human polar bears went for a swim… A statue stares, a cat, and Coney, sleeps…

02-IMG_5382-2 copy
Weegee Daily, January 20, 2013

10 Shoots 10 cents – This is the only sun bather Ceegee found today at Coney Island. He sits in front of a padlocked shooting gallery near boardwalk.

Perhaps one of the longest texts by Weegee in PM Daily. Presumably heavily edited… Most bizarre sentence (not surprisingly about, in part, other newspapers): “I then stopped off at Feltman’s carrousel (wooden horse merry-go-round to youse mugs who read the News and Mirror.)”







A Weegee Daily Map!

(To be continued… edited, etc…)

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

Yesterday at Coney Island… Temperature 89… They Came Early, Stayed Late
Cameraman Reports On Lost Kids, Parking Troubles
Saturday was very hot. So I figured Sunday ought to be a good day to make crowd shots at Coney Island. I arrived at the beach at Coney at 4 a.m., Sunday…
I came back Sunday afternoon… After making the crowd shot I went into the “Cage”…
On the way back to the city I was hailed by a female hitch hiker… She wanted to go home and change into a play suit and ride with me. But I told her I had too much work to do and not enough time to play.
When I got back to the city I took a shower and finished my pictures. While I was at Coney I had two kosher frankfurters and two beers at a Jewish delicatessen on the Boardwalk. Later on for a chaser I had five more beers, a malted milk, two root beers, three Coca Colas and two glasses of buttermilk. And five cigars, costing 19 cents.”

Weegee Daily, July 22, 2012

Today at Coney Island… Temperature 80… They Came Early, Stayed Late(?)
Cameraman Reports on the Weather, Tea and Sweets.
Saturday was warm, although not as hot and humid as the previous record-breaking few weeks, and it was the 72nd anniversary of a famous photo… So I figured Sunday ought to be a good day to make crowd shots at Coney Island. I arrived at the beach at Coney at 12:30 p.m. Sunday…
After making the crowd shot I went into the amazing and extraordinary Coney Island Sideshows by the Seashore and wonderful and otherworldly Coney Island Museum… ” I would have stayed and played pinball and skee-ball, but “I had too much work to do and not enough time to play.”
I found the Robert Wilson Coney Island mural, but the Weegee “inspired” or “quoted” or “appropriated” part was hard to find…
On the way back to the city the Q train was running local on the R track…
When I got back to the city I took a shower and finished my pictures and made a sublime blog post. While I was at Coney I had a bottle of water. Later on for a chaser I had one cup of organic ice coffee and three cups of organic green tea. And Icelandic milk chocolate, costing $3.50.”









Coney Island
And this is Coney Island on a quiet Sunday afternoon… a crowd of over a MILLION is usual and attracts no attention (I wonder who counts them)… it costs only a nickel to get there from any part of the city, and undressing is permitted on the beach… Some come to bathe, but others come to watch the girls. A good spot being the boardwalk…
Naked City, p 176


July 22, 2012. Coney Island as seen from pier… site of at least one famous photo…

A Weegee Daily Map can be seen here!