Coney Island - Timeline

Revised 11/15/97

The material is copyrighted © 1997 by Jeffrey Stanton.




  • Coney Island's boardwalk was extended across Brighton Beach into Manhattan Beach.

  • Steeplechase's Parachute Jump, fresh from the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, was installed along the Boardwalk. The 262 foot tall tower with its 12 chutes offered customers a change to experience a simulated parachute jump.


  • World War II begins and parks remain open for public morale. Coastal dim-out regulations require that night lighting be subdued so that land couldn't be seen by overhead enemy planes or off-shore submarines. Coney Island becomes dark and dreary since lighting was with soft blue or dark purple lamps.



  • Fire guts nearly half of Luna Park on August 12th. The fire started at 3:30 P.M. in Dragon Gorge Scenic Railway on west side of midway and raced towards the rear of the park. Nearly a dozen attractions including the 125 foot high Coca Cola Tower were destroyed. The Mile Sky Chaser (coaster) and Shoot the Chutes rides were damaged but repairable. Unfortunately it was during World War II when building material was strickly rationed. However, the park did reopen and charged ten cents to see the ruins.


  • Luna Park remained closed that season while the owners and the mortgage holder fought in court for the rights of the insurance money.


  • Feltman's sons sold their famous restaurant and fun zone property for $850,000 to Benno Bechhold an executive of the Savoy Plaza Hotel.

  • Luna Park's acreage was sold by the mortgage holder for $275,000 to people not in show business. They announced that they would build a housing project on the property.

  • On October 5th wreckers dismantling the park touched off a four-alarm fire when sparks from a worker's blow torch lit debris under the roller coaster. The fire burned from 2 P.M. to midnight and when it ended only the park's administration building, ballroom and pool remained.


  • Fire rages for four hours on May 12th and damages 12 buildings near the amusement zone. It was along a block long area on Surf Avenue and the Bowery between Henderson Walk and W. 12th Street. The fire which began at Killarney's Irish House spread quickly to the Shamrock Irish House. Forty-five people were hurt and there was $200,000 damages.

  • The New York Daily Mirror newspaper in cooperation with the United States Air Force promoted an air show and fireworks display at Coney on July 3, 1947. It was estimated that 2,500,000 people showed up at Coney for an all time record day. That was a big crowd; more than the number of people that lived in any large city at the time with the exception of either Chicago or New York City.



  • Robert Moses rezoned the land where Luna Park once stood for low income housing projects.

  • A polio epidemic in the New York City area with the majority of the cases in Brooklyn peaked in August. For fear of contagion few people went swimming or too public places and consequently attendance at Coney Island was down dramatically.



  • Electronic games at Coney's arcades were banned as police Commander McCaffery refused to renew liscences.




  • Park Commissioner Edwin Moses rezones the amusement area to residential. After the concessionaires protest the plan, the Estimate Board exempts the amusement zone.


  • Feltman's was auctioned. Herman Rapps, the successful bidder planned to demolish the vast restaurant building and open Wonderland Park when the Oceanarium would be built three years later.


  • A record 1,500,000 visitors to Coney Island on July 4th.



  • The New York Aquarium opens in the spring just east of the Cyclone roller coaster where Dreamland once stood.

  • Fire destroys the Steeplechase Pier on April 22nd.


  • The rebuilt Steeplechase Pier reopens on Sept 12th.