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Coney Island | Timeline

Timeline of Coney Island (1609-1985)

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1609
The explorer Henry Hudson, commanding the "Half-Moon," puts in at Coney Island before continuing into what is now called New York Harbor. According to tradition, his right-hand man, John Coleman, is killed there by local Indians.

1829 
Coney Island House opens, marking the beginning of Coney Island's status as a seaside resort.

1845
Samuel Colt erects a telegraph tower at Coney Island.

1862
George C. Tilyou is born in New York City. His family moves to Coney Island three years later.

1860s
Mike "Thunderbolt" Norton opens a hotel at Norton's Point, on the eastern end of Coney Island, which caters to a corrupt clientele.

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Introducing a sausage sandwich called hotdog

1867
Charles Feltman invents the hot dog at Coney Island.

1869 
John Y. McKane is elected town commissioner of Gravesend, beginning his career as a Coney Island politician.

1875
Andrew Culver completes the Prospect Park & Coney Island Railroad.

1876
Andrew Culver opens the Oriental Hotel, inaugurating the era of opulent hotels at Coney Island.

1877
Andrew Culver erects the 300-foot Steel Tower observatory at Coney Island.

Austin Corbin opens the Manhattan Beach Hotel.

1878
The Camera Obscura Observatory, an import from the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, is installed at Coney Island.

William Engeman opens the Brighton Beach Hotel.

1879
Austin Corbin goes on record with his intentions to ban Jews from his resort. Popular opinion runs against him, and his efforts fail.

1882 
The Elephant Hotel opens at Coney Island. It becomes associated with prostitution, which prompts the local expression, "seeing the elephant."  

Peter and George C. Tilyou open Surf Theater, Coney Island's first theater, on an alley later named the Bowery.

1884
La Marcus Thompson builds the Switchback Railway, arguably the first roller coaster in America, at Coney Island.

1893
The Columbian Exposition is held in Chicago.

1894
John Y. McKane is sentenced to six years hard labor at Sing Sing prison.

1895
Captain Paul Boyton opens Sea-Lion Park, the first enclosed amusement park at Coney Island.

George C. Tilyou opens Steeplechase Park at Coney Island, and introduces the "Steeplechase Horses" ride there.

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Frederic Thompson (right) and Skip Dundy (left)

1902 
Frederic Thompson and Elmer "Skip" Dundy bring their "Trip to the Moon" ride to Steeplechase Park and operate it there for a season.

1903
Frederic Thompson and Skip Dundy open Luna Park.

1904
Senator William Reynolds and a group of local speculators open Dreamland.

1907
Steeplechase Park burns to the ground. Efforts are immediately made to rebuild it. 

Elmer "Skip" Dundy dies.

1908-1909
Samuel Gumpertz becomes general manager of Dreamland.

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Dreamland burning to the ground in 1911

1911
Dreamland burns. The Dreamland Circus Sideshow, run by Samuel Gumpertz, opens while ruins are still smoking.

1914
George C. Tilyou dies.

1916 
Nathan Handwerker opens Nathan's Hot Dogs at Coney Island.

1919
Frederic Thompson dies.

1920
The Wonder Wheel, a 150 foot tall ferris wheel, opens at Coney Island.

A subway line running from Manhattan to Coney Island is completed.

1923
The Riegelmann Boardwalk is built.

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The Cyclone roller coaster

1927
The Cyclone roller coaster begins operation.

1940
The Parachute Tower is moved from the 1939 World's Fair to Steeplecase Park.

1946 
Luna Park closes.

1962
Astroland USA opens at Coney Island. The amusement park is still in business today.

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Steeplechase Park

1964
Steeplechase Park closes

1981
Dick Zigun organizes Coney Island USA.

1983
Coney Island holds the first annual Mermaid Parade on Riegelmann Boardwalk.

1985
Coney Island USA opens Sideshows by the Seashore, now reportedly the only "10-in-1" sideshow operating in North America.

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