Today’s news:

History hot spot! Learn all about the 1911 fire that nearly destroyed Coney Island

Calling all Coney history buffs.

Learn all about the amusement area’s biggest disaster -— which, ironically, became its greatest attraction — in a new museum exhibition opening this month.

The Coney Island History Project will present a photo exhibition and offer a walking tour to mark the centennial of a fire that nearly destroyed the whole neighborhood.

The 1911 fire, which sparked after hot tar leaked from a water slide — go figure — burned down three amusement parks, and its aftermath was nearly as thrilling as the rollercoasters it destroyed.

“After the fire, everybody came to Coney Island to see the ruins,” said History Project founder Charles Denson. “Photo booths were even set up to take pictures of people standing in the rubble.”

Denson’s gathered old newspaper photos for the display — the more bizarre the better. One highlight includes the image of a police officer shooting an escaped lion that was climbing a roller coaster.

Visitors can also listen to pre-recorded interviews with the living relatives of the police and fire fighters who battled the blaze. And, for an extra $15, you can follow Denson on a walking tour of the area where one of the amusement parks, Dreamland, once stood. Its Surf Avenue address is now home to the New York Aquarium, but Denson has collected many artifacts, including beer bottles, so you can step back in history.

Dreamland Fire exhibition and walking tour at the Coney Island History Project (3059 W. 12th St. near Bowery Street in Coney Island, no phone), May 27, time TBA. Tickets $20. For info, visit

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

CNG: Community Newspaper Group