In honor of 9/11 and New York City, I thought that this week would be a good one to put up some of the images of “old” New York that I have – postcards, pictures, and the like – of places in and around New York City. This one is an old postcard from 1913 giving a cut-away view of a subway station beneath a drawing of the New York City Hall. Notice how the subway cars look like trolley cars. Not at all like the subway cars of today. Globe-shaped electric lights hang down from the high arching ceiling.
Many people forget that the subway system in New York is quite old, and there was also an extensive elevated train system at one time. (Not sure how much of the latter still exists.) Originally the elevated trains were coal powered and would rain down ashes, soot, and sparks on the unlucky people below.
Dozens of amusement parks on all continents except Antarctica have shared the name “Luna Park” (over 70, including one here in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio); but the one at Coney Island, New York, was the first, opening in 1903. It was the second major amusement park at Coney Island, and was supposedly named after sister of one of the founders whose first name was “Luna”. However, one of the first and major attractions was a ride called “A Trip to the Moon”, which had originally been part of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The ride’s spacecraft, which was not a rocket but flapped its wings, was named “Luna”, and it is likely that the park was named for it.
In any case, there were a number of popular rides at Luna Park, including “Witching Waves”, “Helter Skelter”, and “”Shoot-the-Chutes”. The park also had tame elephants and offered elephant rides. The exotic architecture as well as the thousands of small electrical lights (at a time when electricity was not common) contributed to the park’s popularity.
In 1944, two fires damaged the park badly enough that it did not open for the 1945 season. A further fire in 1946 spelled the end for the original Luna Park. However, as part of a revitalization effort on Coney Island, a new Luna Park opened in 2010, with an entrance modeled after the original entrance pictured on this postcard. It has 19 modern rides and also games.