A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 14, 2010
City of Fire (Coney Island)

The Russian writer Maxim Gorky visited Coney Island in 1907 and wrote that it was a “fantastic city all of fire” and a “city of fire,” mainly because of all the lights and activity. The nickname “City of Fire” has been used for Coney Island infrequently throughout the years. sometimes in sad reflection. Fires destroyed Dreamland in 1911 and Luna Park in 1944.


Wikipedia: Coney Island
Coney Island is a peninsula, formerly an island, in southernmost Brooklyn, New York City, USA, with a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and Gravesend to the north.

The area was a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. In recent years, the area has seen the opening of KeySpan Park, home to the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team.

Wikipedia: Maxim Gorky
Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov (Russian: Алексе́й Макси́мович Пе́шков or Пешко́в) (28 March [O.S. 16 March] 1868 – 18 June 1936), better known as Maxim Gorky (Макси́м Го́рький), was a Russian/Soviet author, a founder of the socialist realism literary method and a political activist.

From 1906 to 1913 and from 1921 to 1929 he lived abroad, mostly in Capri, Italy; after his return to the Soviet Union he accepted the cultural policies of the time, although he was not permitted to leave the country.

Google Books
8 August 1907, The Independent (NY), “Boredom” by Maxim Gorky, pg. 309:
WITH the advent of night a fantastic city all of fire suddenly rises from the ocean into the sky. Thousands of ruddy sparks glimmer in the darkness, limning in fine, sensitive outline on the black background of the sky, shapely towers of miraculous castles, palaces and temples. Golden gossamer threads tremble in the air. THey intertwine in transparent, flaming patterns, which flutter and melt away in love with their own beauty mirrored in the waters. Fabulous and beyond conceiving, ineffable beautiful, is this fiery scintillation. It burns but does not consume. Its palpitations are scare visible. In the wilderness of sky and ocean rises the magic picture of a flaming city.
(Pg. 310, col. 2—ed.)
Then the gaze is met by the sight of dazzling, magnificent Coney Island. From the very first moment of arrival at this city of fire, the eye is blinded. It is assailed by thousands of cold, white sparks, and for a long time can distinguish nothing in the scintillating dust round about. Everything whirls and dazzles, and blends into a tempestrous ferment of fiery foam.

10 August 1907, Baltimore (MD) Sun, pg. 11:
GORKY WRITES OF CONEY ISLE
Finds “Boredom” In That “Fantastic City of Fire”
Maxim Gorky describes Coney Island as “Boredom” in an article in the Independent, but he cannot conceal his admiration for the first sight of the “fantastic city of fire” that rises from the ocean into the sky:

“Thousands of ruddy sparks glimmer in the darkness, liming in fine, sensitive outline on he black background of the sky, shapely towers of miraculous castles, palaces and temples. Golden gossamer threads tremble in the air. ... Fabulous and beyond conceiving, ineffably beautiful, is this fiery scintillation.”

The effect by day is no less alluring:

“The sand glitters in the sun with a warm, yellow gleam and the transparent buildings stand out on its velvety expanse like thin white silk embroidery. The effect is as of rich garments thrown carelessly on the bosom of the island by some bather before plunging into the waters.”

But he says that New York, which spurned Gorky, is wicked. THerefore he ruddy sparks of Coney turn “cold” and “garish” on nearer view.

OCLC WorldCat record
Coney Island : a postcard journey to the city of fire
Author: Richard F Snow
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Brightwaters Press, ©1984.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The American amusement park
Author: Dale Samuelson; Wendy Yegoiants
Publisher: St. Paul, MN : MBI Pub. Co., 2001.
Edition/Format: Book : English
Contents: 1. First things first—Pleasure Gardens, picnic groves, and worldly expos—2. Coney Island—City of lights, city of fire

OCLC WorldCat record
Dreams in the city of fire
Author: Jim R Potter; Bob Jones University Press.
Publisher: Greenville, S.C. : BJU Press, ©2004.
Series: Drama scripts
Edition/Format: Book : English
Summary: Coney Island, the world’s most famous amusement park, is a place roaring with fun and laughter in 1929. For a young man like Darren Moore, it’s a place to dream impossible dreams, maybe even get rich speculating in the stock market. But reality hits hard with the great market crash of 1929, and the dream of a carefree life quickly fades with the bright lights of the “City of Fire.” Darren, deeply in debt to a loan shark, loses almost everything. Only Marianne, a friend he has long neglected, can help him. It’s her faith in Christ that helps him find the real value of life. 

OCLC WorldCat record
Coney Island wonder stories : tales of the city of fire
Author: John Ordover
Publisher: [Rockville, Md.] : Wildside Press/ Dreamland Production, 2005.
Edition/Format: Book : Fiction : English : 1st ed

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • (0) Comments • Sunday, March 14, 2010 • Permalink