08 July 2013

What's Left of the Astrotower

The Astrotower's 50-year life came to a sudden, unexpected and violent end over the past week, following reports on July 2 that the one-time Coney Island attraction was swaying worryingly in the wind. Officials shut down the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone rollercoaster, and all surrounding rides, in fear that the disused landmark might topple. Obviously, Coney Island can't remain indefinitely inactive during its peak operating season. So, soon enough, workers got busy dismantling the 270-foot tower, foot by foot. 

At first, the plan seemed to be to lop off just enough so the monument wouldn't present a danger. But I guess once the workers got into a rhythm, they didn't see the point of stopping. I had planned to journey down to Coney on Thursday or Friday to witness the Tower's trimming, but couldn't find the time under Saturday morning.

What I encountered there when I arrived you can seen in the photo above. The Astrotower was completely gone, reduced to a stump fenced off by chain link. I had a tough time even finding the thing—something that was never a problem when the Tower was at its full height. The chunks of Tower were sold to a local junkyard for scrap.

What a goddamned waste. Even as City Hall and real estate developers teamed up in recent years to strip Coney off all its character, the boardwalk retained four seemingly immutable landmarks: The Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, the Parachute Jump, and the Astor Tower. Now there are only three. When Astroland, the amusement park that gave the tower its name, was unceremoniously kicked out a few years ago, the City was given the option of adopting the tower. The owners of Astroland were willing to make a gift of it to the City. But the City didn't want it, even for nothing. Astroland closed in 2008, and the Tower just stood there, untended. The far less interesting amusement park Luna Park grew up around it.

The only place you can see the Astrotower now is in this map of the Luna Park grounds.


Anonymous said...

How convenient that Bloomberg's wanted it gone for years and now it became a danger and just had to go.

dmarks said...

This is emblematic of America's space age, in general. Instead of moon colonies, we have memories, rusty shuttles, and ride-stumps.