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Calling all Brooklynites -- if you think you might have some old photographs or home movies of Astroland from the 1960s kicking around your attic or basement, documentarian JL Aaronson wants to hear from you.
For the last couple of years Aaronson, 34, has been working with Astroland operator Carol Hill Albert documenting the park’s losing battle with landlord Joe Sitt and Thor Equities.
Unlike the storied Coney Island parks of yesteryear like Steeplechase, Dreamland and Luna - Aaronson says that Astroland Amusement Park is actually under-documented.
“In the mid-sixties when Steeplechase closed and Astroland debuted there was a marked shift as Coney Island became much more of a local phenomena, so there wasn’t as much media attention,” Aaronson explains.
Making its “space age” debut on Surf Avenue in 1962, Astroland Amusement Park only coexisted with Steeplechase Park for two short years before that venerable old park went bust in 1964.
That’s why not many people may remember that a cable-car once ran from one end of Astroland to the other, and that the now defunct amusement park was once home to a diving bell exhibition complete with live dolphins.
It’s the kind of rare memorabilia - both in photographs and moving images that Aaronson considers gold.
Submissions have already started coming in - including a totally unexpected call from Florida just a few days ago.
“Yesterday, I got a call from Jerry Albert’s nephew who lives in Florida,” a delighted Aaronson revealed. “He didn’t even know a film was being made and he just calls me out of nowhere and says I’ve got a box of Super-8 movies from the sixties. I almost dropped the phone.”
The Crown Heights filmmaker responsible the Astroland’s familiar 2002 TV spot as well as three other well-received documentaries, including “Danielson Famile Movie” and “Up on the Roof”, is presently editing his chronicle of Astroland’s final days. He admits, however, that the ending still has yet to be written as the start of the Coney Island redevelopment Uniform Land Use Review Procedure is just getting underway.
“The film focuses on Astroland but it’s also about the times we live in,” Aaronson said.
Anyone who thinks they might have old films or photographs of Astroland from the 1960s they’d be willing to share is urged to contact Aaronson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-282-3050. You can also log onto the Coney Island History Project at coneyislandhistory.org.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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