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It’s a race against time to save two iconic structures from the recently closed Astroland park in Coney Island.
Unlike Astroland’s thrill rides, which owner Carol Albert is trying to sell, the Rocketship and Astroland Tower are free for the taking — and in the case of the 1960s-vintage Rocketship, Albert will even pay some moving expenses.
But no one has stepped forward to house the massive pieces of the amusement landscape before Albert vacates the park’s site, between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk, by the end of January.
“We’ve had inquiries from several people, but we don’t have anything definite yet,” Albert said.
If no takers step forward, the attractions could wind up in the scrap heap — an unfitting end for such prominent visual relics of the fabled People’s Playground, Albert said.
The Rocketship is an original ride from the space-age theme park’s opening in the 1962, but has had a purely decorative function since the 1970s, when it landed atop the Gregory and Paul’s hot dog stand on the Boardwalk.
The tower is one of the highest points in the Coney Island skyline, along with the Cyclone roller coaster and inactive Parachute Jump. At night, it lit the sky like a Roman candle.
The nearby New York Aquarium and the Brooklyn Museum were among the candidates to receive the ride, but both lacked the space for it.
The interstellar attractions became orphans after Albert sold her three acres of land to Thor Equities in 2006 for $30 million. Thor rented the space to her for the past two seasons, but she finally shuttered the dilapidated funland this fall after Thor did not respond to her ultimatum for a new lease.
The closure of Astroland leaves Coney Island with just one amusement park — Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
Albert’s efforts to unload her 20 rides hit a wall too. Last month, NY1 reported that Albert was negotiating with an operator in Australia to purchase the collection, but “that’s on a backburner now,” Albert told The Brooklyn Paper.
The city, which is negotiating to buy more than 10 acres of Thor’s land in Coney Island to launch a glitzy development of new rides, attractions and hotels, mourned the possible loss of the spaceship.
“Astroland’s Rocketship is an important part of Coney’s past and we hope that it will remain in Coney Island for generations to come,” the Coney Island Development Corporation said in a statement.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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