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Astroland Rocket Update: Staten Island Exile Looms for a While

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[Photo courtesy of Pablo Jonesy/flickr]

A little while ago we had news that one of our obsessions, the iconic Astroland Rocket, had been donated to the city and would remain in Coney Island. We now have more details from the city, where a full cast of characters, including City Planning Director Amanda Burden and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Lieber showed up for the announcement and photo op. First the good news: the iconic Rocket isn't going to Pakistan. Now the bad news: Sources tell us it's leaving tonight for shipment to Staten Island, where it will remain until it comes back as part of the amusement park the city wants to build. Not to be the skunk that wanders into the Garden Party, but In practical terms, this means it could be a loooooooong time before it returns to Coney Island. The city's press release said, "Rescue of Endangered Coney Island Artifact is a Symbol of the City’s Commitment to the Redevelopment of the Storied Amusement Destination...Will Relocate to a Permanent Home in Coney Island’s New Amusement and Entertainment District." It added that the 71-foot long, 14,000 pound rocket "will become a permanent and iconic part of the 27 acre redeveloped amusement district in Coney Island."

Here are some key quotes from the Rocket press release:

“Coney Island is the people’s playground and the Astroland Rocket is its symbol of the adventure, discovery and fun that have brought New Yorkers here for years,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber. “As we move forward and put in place a redevelopment and revitalization plan that will create an even better future for Coney Island’s amusement district, we want to preserve, and enhance, her past and I am pleased to say that the Rocket will continue to be part of Coney Island for generations to come.”

“The Astroland Rocket is a quintessential part of Coney Island’s history that serves as a unifying link between its fabled past and its future as a year-round entertainment destination,” said Seth W. Pinsky, President, NYCEDC. “The Rocket will now join the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel and the Parachute Jump as permanent symbols of Coney Island as it once was and the Coney Island that it will become again.”

“The Astroland Rocket symbolizes the spirit of adventure and exuberance that Coney Island represents to us all,” said City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden. “The City's plan for the redevelopment of Coney Island will keep that spirit but also ensure that it is as much fun in January as it is in July.”

The Astroland Rocket will become a centerpiece of the new, revitalized amusement and entertainment district outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan for Coney Island...The Rocket was the first ride debuted at Astroland Park when it opened in 1962 and one of the first space voyage simulators created during the Space Race. Originally built as the "Star Flyer,” it was renamed the Astroland Rocket in 1963 and continued to operate through the 1970’s. The ride had 26 seats and lifted on hydraulics to simulate launching into space.

“Coney Island’s unique character has distinguished it in the national imagination since its earliest days, and I commend the Mayor and the EDC for understanding the need to preserve our timeless icons,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. “When I look at this rocket, I recall JFK’s rallying cry that America would go to the moon before the 60’s was out—and I hereby cry out to all those who love Coney, that together we will revitalize “America’s Favorite Playground” by the end of this decade. Let’s give this rocket a dream destination—the Coney Island of the 21st Century, a modern mecca of freakishness, fun-loving spirit and Brooklyn charm.”Aw, heck, Marty used the f-word again in the same quote summoning the memory of JFK.
· Astroland Rocket Coverage [Curbed]