This comes a little late for Jeff Bridges' Coney Island adventure, but
it would be very illuminating if, before he embarks, he could read the
great Coney Island history by Charles Denson, "Coney Island, Lost and
Found." It is a lavishly illustrated paperback of 294 pages, published
by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley/Toronto, in 2002.
Denson documents the area's rise and fall and its recent rebirth,
describing the part that names like Robert Moses and Fred Trump played
in doing what numerous fires couldn't to destroy Coney Island's
amusement areas like Steeplechase Park. Numerous Coney Island
personalities -- Nathan Handwerker, Jimmy and Charlie Tesoriero, Marie
Tilyou, Jimmy McCullough, Dick Zigun, and dozens more -- come alive in
words and pictures. All of the famous rides, both long-gone and
still-running, are shown. The section on the Parachute Jump tells how
its operators, the elite of Coney Island ride workers, managed to keep
it running day in and day out and to un-jamb the chutes when a lady's
panties got snagged in the cables.
I didn't check, but I imagine the book is available for around $30 from
amazon-dot-com or other booksellers.
Matthew Caulfield (Irondequoit, N.Y.)