Coney Islanders: Give us the city's massive observation wheel

Coney Island wants massive observation wheel

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A massive observation wheel slated for Staten Island should be built in Coney Island, claim People’s Playground boosters who say the amusement district should be home to anything remotely amusing in the city.

Staten Islanders cheered the news that they may be getting the 600-foot ride — the largest observation wheel in the world at twice the height of the Statue of Liberty — that will give tourists sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline, but Coney Island’s faithful are balking at the idea.

“The world’s largest Ferris wheel belongs in Coney!” said Dick Zigun, Coney Island’s unofficial mayor and founder of Coney Island USA. “The city needs to stay focused on rebuilding Coney into a first class major tourist destination, it shouldn’t encourage competition with Coney within the five boroughs.”

Borough leaders agreed with Zigun.

“Coney Island is America’s original amusement park and playground, and a natural location for the world’s tallest observation wheel,” said Borough President Markowitz, claiming that Coney’s existing attractions would draw far bigger crowds than Staten Island could ever provide.

“The city should consider what location will provide the biggest bang for the buck and the strongest economic return,” he said.

Markowitz’s words stuck in the craw of Staten Island’s biggest booster, who said Coney Island shouldn’t have all the fun.

“It’s just one wheel,” said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, who claims that the observation wheel won’t cater to Coney Island’s thrill-seeking, beach-going and freak-watching crowd.

“The people who are going to Coney Island aren’t from all over the world. They are from the five boroughs,” the politician said. “This wheel will be made for tourists. There’s not going to be amusements all around it, or hot dog stands.”

Zigun said if the city decides to put the observation wheel in Coney Island, it should be placed at a respectful distance from the landmarked Wonder Wheel — which is four times smaller — to avoid competition.

But observation wheels like the London Eye are quite different than traditional Ferris wheels — even one as iconic as the Coney Island Wonder Wheel.

Instead of sitting on swaying, open air carriages common at amusement parks and fairs around the world, visitors sit in fixed, bus-sized capsules that can carry more than 20 people.

Observation wheel makers say passengers don’t feel any movement or vibration at all — unlike riding the 82-year-old Wonder Wheel, where six people can fit in a car and 16 of the 24 cars slide back and forth as the wheel rotates.

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Reader Feedback

Robert from Sheepshead Bay says:
I was on the Boardwalk yesterday... I walk on the Boardwalk 4-5 times a week for exercise (except when it rains)... I see alot of people there who do the same thing... I got to talking to a tourist from London England, who was staying in Midtown Manhattan (at the Marriott Times Square)

As a POI.. would someone Please tell the staff at the Marriott that the most direct route to Coney Island from Midtown Manhattan is not the R or N train, but the Q Train, which stops right at Neptune Ave. It's a more direct route, and will save visitors from outside of the US time.

I meet alot of tourists on the Boardwalk.... Europeans like to see neighborhoods outside of central Manhattan, and Coney Island & the Boardwalk are well known attractions.

In fact, I went to most of the Free Concerts sponsored by Marty Markowitz in Coney Island this Summer, and met alot of tourists from outside of New York who were drawn by the opportunity to see named artists perform for free (for the cost of a subway ride).

To Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, if your going to make a statement, please make sure you have your facts straight..... Maybe you should spend some time on the Boardwalk in Coney Island, and speak to the people, so you can hear all of the foreign accents they speak...

...“It’s just one wheel,” said Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, who claims that the observation wheel won’t cater to Coney Island’s thrill-seeking, beach-going and freak-watching crowd.

“The people who are going to Coney Island aren’t from all over the world. They are from the five boroughs,” the politician said. “This wheel will be made for tourists. There’s not going to be amusements all around it, or hot dog stands.”
Aug. 31, 2012, 8:32 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Putting an observation wheel in Coney Island where there's nothing to observe once you're off the ground? Sounds pretty short-sighted to me.
Aug. 31, 2012, 9:01 am
Pawel from Oakwood says:
Putting it in Staten Island would be better because of the clean and panoramic view of New York Harbor from the planned site. Also, many foreign tourists ride the ferry year round anyway, so I don't think it would have a problem drawing a crowd. Coney Island draws people mostly in the summer, and I don't think many people would make the trek there just to go to an observation wheel when it gets really cold out.
Aug. 31, 2012, 10:47 am
Vicki from Marine Park says:
The best view of NY Harbor from SI is from the Ferry. Could someone tell me what else is there to do in SI after you ride The Wheel, go visit the garbage dumps? Nah, you take the Ferry and go to Manhattan to do/see something that fun and entertaining! What a waste of money!
Aug. 31, 2012, 10:52 am
Zurchnad from New jersey says:
The best views of the manhattan skyline are from The New Jersey side of the river not Staten Island!
Aug. 31, 2012, 11:27 am
Pawel from Oakwood says:
@Vicki from Marine Park

Yeah, there isn't a whole lot to do for foreign tourists visiting Staten Island yet, but that was the point of putting the wheel there in the first place. It's meant to revitalize the North Shore of Staten Island. Whether or not it's a good idea is another discussion, but that was a main motive of the plan.

And the Fresh Kills Landfill (garbage dump) is now closed and being turned into a massive park. I've been there, it's actually quite impressive, and maybe in the future tourists will actually visit it. However, it's not much different from the Spring Creek Landfills that are a short distance away from Marine Park.
Aug. 31, 2012, 1:05 pm
Dominic from St. George says:
There are many areas of NYC that need redevelopment. The Staten Island Eye is meant to give the thousands of tourists who ride the SI Ferry every day a reason to venture out of the terminal and spent some time (and some bucks) on our sorely neglected island. That is an intelligent development goal, whether you are for the Eye or against it. Let's all support each other in improving our neighborhoods and not fight like children over each project.
Aug. 31, 2012, 3:14 pm
Vicki from Marine Park says:
@ Dominic and Pawel The island is sorely neglected as you did not want "to turn in into another Brooklyn", all you guys wanted were suburban neighborhoods in the city, you never embraced the city culture and in fact were damn proud of that claim to fame. The traffic is always horrendous and when I was traveling through last year, half the landfill was still open. It will take years before that park is fit for humans to sit down and eat a meal. By that time the wheel will become a neglected "attempt" and then ask the city for more $$ to tear it down and rebuild. The amusement ride center of NYC is Coney Island, think of something else to bring the tourists, this ain't going to get it.
Aug. 31, 2012, 3:56 pm
Joe from Coney Island says:
The headline of this story is misleading and inaccurate in every way. Who made Dick Zigun and Marty the official voice for ALL of Coney Island?? We already have a fantastic wheel: The Wonder Wheel! Best in the world.

Let Staten Island have a little fun.
Aug. 31, 2012, 5:37 pm
Bengee from Coney says:
13 dollars before you even get on the thing.
Aug. 31, 2012, 8:17 pm
John from Westminster Road says:
The wheel belongs in Brooklyn Bridge Park or Fulton Ferry.
Sept. 1, 2012, 12:54 am
Tyron from Coney Island says:
Wonder how the wonder wheel is safe to the public.
Sept. 1, 2012, 12:55 am
Deno's Wonder Wheel from Coney Island says:
The Wonder Wheel is proud to be the iconic centerpiece of Coney Island and an official New York City landmark. The Wheel is 92 years old, not 82 as the article states. Modern amusement parks may have several roller coasters but there's room for ONLY ONE Wheel. In Coney Island, New York City's landmark Wonder Wheel, a true original, is IT. They don't build 'em like this anymore! Why would anyone want to build another?

Here's a brief history of the Wonder Wheel, in reply to the above comment:

Built in 1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company using 100% Bethlehem Steel forged right on the premises. The 18 co-owners worked as construction men to insure quality throughout the building process.

The Wonder Wheel has maintained a perfect safety record for its entire history.

Each year, the entire 400,000 lb. ride is overhauled and painted to protect it from the elements of weather, wear and tear.

Deno's WONDER WHEEL was named an OFFICIAL NYC LANDMARK in 1989.

Full-size replicas of the Wonder Wheel were built for Disney's California Adventure and a park in Yokohama, Japan. The only stoppage in the history of the WONDER WHEEL was on July 13, 1977 during the Great NYC Blackout - when the entire northeast lost electrical power. Riders on the WONDER WHEEL were brought down safely because the owners hand cranked the wheel.
Sept. 1, 2012, 8:10 am
Fatty from Arbuckle says:
I agree, this wheel belongs in Coney Island. No other boro should have something like this. While we're at it, no other boro should also have:
a) Hot Dogs
b) street crack head prostitutes
c) police
d) freedom of speech
e) air
f) water
g) a beach
h) public transportation
i) blowhard community activists
j) self-promoting, useless politicians

As all of the above are Coney Island staples, they need to be exclusive just to Coney Island.
Sept. 2, 2012, 2:25 pm
Coney Island History Project from Coney Island says:
Title of this ridiculous article: "Coney Island wants massive observation wheel"

No, we don't. The landmark Wonder Wheel has been the centerpiece of Coney Island for 92 years and we hope another 92.
Sept. 3, 2012, 2:03 pm
Coco says:
If they do end up putting the Observation Wheel on Staten Island, there should be a ferry from there to Coney. If you buy a ticket to the Observation Wheel, the ferry to Coney could be free to those who want to go.
Feb. 12, 2013, 11:25 am

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