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Archive for the tag 'surf avenue'

RKO Tilyou Theatre exterior

The RKO Tilyou Theater. Built in the 1920s and now destroyed. It represents the rise of Coney Island as an amusement destination. (Source: Cinema Treasures)

The RKO Tilyou is one of those landmarks of Southern Brooklyn that have long been demolished but still live on through pictures and legacy. Originally built in 1926 on Surf Avenue, the theater belonged to a Coney Island family that helped define the waterfront neighborhood as an amusement destination.

The theater’s peculiar name comes from the family, the Tilyous, that opened the cinema. And the story of the theater is intertwined with the Tilyou family, a long line of people that the Brooklyn Museum describe as being “intimately connected with Coney Island as providers of entertainment.”

On the opening night of March 18, 1926, the theater featured vaudeville and the film Three Faces East, according to Cezar Del Valle. He has published two volumes on old theaters in Brooklyn called The Brooklyn Theater Index. There is soon to be a third volume that will feature the Tilyou theater along with many other oldies in Southern Brooklyn.

Cinema Treasures, another site for old theaters, writes this about the Tilyou theater:

This grand old theatre had its heyday in the golden era of Coney Island. It stood one block away from the Shore Theatre and Steeplechase Park, all on Surf Avenue. The Tilyou Theatre was opened by B.S. Moss on March 18, 1926.

The Shore Theater that is referred to above is last remaining theaters of the era still standing in Coney Island.

The Tilyous also enjoyed fame and glory during that time. Their legacy stretches back into the mid-19th century when Peter Tilyou opened a  Surf House in 1865 before Coney Island’s “golden era.” The neighborhood was beginning to transform into a world of amusement. The tavern quickly became a popular waterhole close to the terminus of the first rail line, according to the Brooklyn Museum. Peter’s son, George, went on to open Steeplechase Park in 1897 and the family eventually went on to open the RKO theater along with a Ferris Wheel “and other rides scattered along the beach,” according to Coney Island History.

The account continues:

[George] Tilyou became Coney’s biggest booster and a philanthropist who supported local orphanages, the Catholic church, children’s hospitals, and other charities.

In 1897, George moved his mechanical horse-racing-themed rides into an enclosed park at West 16th Street and Surf Avenue.

George died in 1914 and his children continued to run the park and the various other sources of amusement the family owned. Then in 1964, they sold the Steeplechase Park to a developer who demolished it. Not long after that, in 1973, the RKO Theater was also demolished.

In its twilight, it was running action double features at bargain prices.

Source: Facebook

Cha Cha’s Bar and Grill on Surf Avenue is closing its doors for good, according to a report from Amusing the Zillion.

Like practically every establishment on Coney Island, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the business, though no reason for the closure was given in the sad Twitter announcement.

Cha Cha’s relocated to Surf Avenue last spring when they lost their lease on their boardwalk spot. After Sandy knocked them out of business, plans were put into motion for a January reopening, but for whatever reason those plans have been axed.

Fare thee well, Cha Cha’s…

Source: w00kie via Flickr

While we didn’t plan on doing another Coney Island story today, with summer on its way and Coney Island still in a transitional period, there’s simply an above average amount of chatter out there. With so many changes on the horizon, we want to give Bensonhurst Bean’s readers a heads up on what to expect at the beach this summer.

Coney Island developer Joe Sitt – who has become very unpopular with preservationists in recent years – says the suburban mall-like building erected by his firm Thor Equities on the Stillwell Avenue site of an historic structure he had demolished is only temporary, and is just one of many changes (shudder) in store for the People’s Playground. Continue Reading »

Tomorrow City Councilman Domenic Recchia, in conjunction with the United Federation of Teachers Special Education Department and the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, will host a workshop for parents of special needs children.

The event will take place at P.S. 329 the Surfside School at 6 p.m.

P.S. 329 the Surfside School is located at 2929 West 30th Street, near Surf Avenue in Coney Island.

Councilman Domenic Recchia represents Council District 47, which includes Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, as well as part of Bensonhurst. He also serves as Chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee.

Patricia Cooper, 35, went missing from her Coney Island home on Weds., Feb. 8, 2012. (NYPD via DNAinfo)

The search is still on for a woman who was reported missing from an assisted-living home in Coney Island last week.

Patrica Cooper, age 35, was last seen at around noon on Wednesday, leaving the Oceanview Manor Home at 3010 West 33rd Street, near Surf Avenue, NYPD sources told DNAinfo.

She is described as 5-foot-7 and weighing 250 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, according to the police.

Anyone with further information is asked to contact NYPD Crime Stoppers, either by calling 1-800-577-TIPS, logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website, or texting tips by sending them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

Source: Don Nunn via Flickr

A baby was found abandoned late last night inside the hallway of an apartment building in Coney Island.

Paramedics responding to a 911 call arrived at the building, located on West 33rd Street near Surf Avenue in the O’Dwyer Houses, at around 12:30 a.m. to find the 5-month-old baby girl in a hallway on the seventh floor.

A police source quoted in the Daily News says that a broken cell phone and small vodka bottle were laying on the floor near where the baby was discovered.

She was taken to Coney Island hospital, where Continue Reading »

Peter Agrapides Sr., who bought Williams Candy on Coney Island in the 1980s, points to one of the confections a burglar liked on Dec. 21. The big lollipops cost $12 (Photo Credit: Chang W. Lee via NY Times)

On December 21, a historic Coney Island candy shop was burglarized in the middle of the night by a creep with a taste for candy. Continue Reading »

If the city has its way the view from the Wonder Wheel will include more rides and less vacant lots(Grace O'Malley)

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that this past summer, Coney Island hosted more visitors than it had in the past 40 years. Altogether over 640,000 individuals took more than 2 million rides between Luna Park and Scream Zone – its two main amusement areas. Continue Reading »


The 28th Annual Mermaid Parade begins tomorrow at 2 pm.

From the official site:

* The Parade will start at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue                                                                                                                          * The Parade will roll east to West 10th Street
* at West 10th Street the Parade will turn south towards the boardwalk
* cars and motorized floats can park on West 10th Street
* At the Boardwalk, the marchers and push-pull floats will turn west and head towards Stillwell Ave.
* At Stillwell Ave. the Parade will disband

Founded in 1983 by Coney Island USA, the not-for-profit arts organization that also produces the Coney island Circus Sideshow, the Mermaid Parade pays homage to Coney Island’s forgotten Mardi Gras which lasted from 1903 to 1954, and draws from a host of other sources resulting in a wonderful and wacky event that is unique to Coney Island.

This year’s King Neptune is none other than Brooklyn native Adam Richman from the Travel Channel show Man vs. Food. Emmy Award winning host of Talk Stoop Cat Greenleaf will reign as Queen Mermaid.

Don’t forget to head over to Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay for Bensonhurst Bean’s Launch Party after the parade!